Timing and necessity of staging imaging in clinical stage II cutaneous melanoma: Cost-effectiveness and clinical decision analysis

Published:October 14, 2022DOI:


      • Routine preoperative imaging in clinical stage II melanoma is not recommended.
      • It is still frequently obtained in practice, despite being low yield and costly.
      • Selective postoperative imaging is a more cost-effective approach.
      • Lymphovascular invasion was associated with occult metastases in this population.



      Preoperative imaging in clinical stage II melanoma is not indicated per National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines but remains common in clinical practice.


      Patients presenting with cutaneous clinical stage II melanoma from 2007 to 2019 were retrospectively reviewed. A clinical decision analysis with cost data was designed to understand ideal practice patterns in managing stage II melanoma, with pre-versus selective post-operative imaging as the initial decision node.


      There were 277 subjects included, and 143 underwent preoperative imaging (49.5%). This changed management (i.e. no surgery) in one patient (0.4%). Overall, 16 patients had additional findings on imaging (5.8%). Upfront surgery with selective postoperative imaging was a more cost-effective strategy than routine performance of preoperative imaging, with savings of $1677 per patient.


      Preoperative imaging is a low yield, costly approach for patients with clinical stage II melanoma with minimal impact on the decision to proceed with surgical management.


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