“Impact of Shave Biopsy on Diagnosis and Management of Cutaneous Melanoma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” Links And Excerpts

In this post I reviewed and link to Impact of Shave Biopsy on Diagnosis and Management of Cutaneous Melanoma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis [PubMed Abstract] [Full-Text HTML] [Full-Text PDF]. Ann Surg Oncol. 2021 Oct;28(11):6168-6176. doi: 10.1245/s10434-021-09866-3. Epub 2021 Mar 29.



Melanoma is the most lethal skin cancer. Excision biopsy is generally recommended for clinically suspicious pigmented lesions; however, a proportion of cutaneous melanomas are diagnosed by shave biopsy. A systematic review was undertaken to investigate the impact of shave biopsy on tumor staging, treatment recommendations, and prognosis.


The MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases were searched for relevant articles. Data on deep margin status on shave biopsy, tumor upstaging, and additional treatments on wide local excision (WLE), disease recurrence, and survival effect were analyzed across studies.


Fourteen articles from 2010 to 2020 were included. In total, 3713 patients had melanoma diagnosed on shave biopsy. Meta-analysis revealed a positive deep margin in 42.9% of shave biopsies. Following WLE, change in tumor stage was reported in 7.7% of patients. Additional treatment was recommended for 2.3% of patients in the form of either further WLE and/or sentinel lymph node biopsy. There was high heterogeneity across studies in all outcomes. Four studies reported survival, while no studies found any significant difference in disease-free or overall survival between shave biopsy and other biopsy modalities.


Just over 40% of melanomas diagnosed on shave biopsy report a positive deep margin; however, this translated into a change in tumor stage or treatment recommendations in relatively few patients (7.7% and 2.3%, respectively), with no impact on local recurrence or survival among the studies analyzed.

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