Background: Approximately 85% of melanoma patients who undergo a sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) are node-negative. Melanoma incidence is highest in patients ≥65 years, but their SLNB positivity rate is lower than in younger patients. CP-GEP, a model combining clinicopathologic and gene expression variables, identifies primary cutaneous melanoma (CM) patients who may safely forgo SLNB due to their low risk for nodal metastasis. Here, we validate CP-GEP in a U.S. melanoma patient cohort. Methods: A cohort of 208 adult patients with primary CM from the Mayo Clinic and West Virginia University was used. Patients were stratified according to their risk for nodal metastasis: CP-GEP High Risk and CP-GEP Low Risk. The main performance measures were SLNB reduction rate (RR) and negative predictive value (NPV). Results: SLNB positivity rate for the entire cohort was 21%. Most patients had a T1b (34%) or T2a (31%) melanoma. In the T1-T2 group (153 patients), CP-GEP achieved an SLNB RR of 41.8% (95% CI: 33.9-50.1) at an NPV of 93.8% (95% CI: 84.8-98.3). Subgroup analysis showed similar performance in T1-T2 patients ≥65 years of age (51 patients; SLNB positivity rate, 9.8%): SLNB RR of 43.1% (95% CI: 29.3-57.8) at an NPV of 95.5% (95% CI: 77.2-99.9). Conclusion: We confirmed the potential of CP-GEP to reduce negative SLNB in all relevant age groups. Our findings are especially relevant to patients ≥65 years, where surgery is often elective. CP-GEP may guide SLNB decision-making in clinical practice.
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