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J Pediatr Surg. 2003 Jul;38(7):1063-5.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy in children and adolescents with malignant melanoma.

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  • 1Department of Surgery/Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN, USA.



Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) provides valuable staging information for adult patients presenting with clinically localized cutaneous melanoma. There are little data pertaining to the use of SLNB in the pediatric melanoma population. The objective of this study is to investigate the use of SLNB in the pediatric population, focusing on its diagnostic and therapeutic implications.


Retrospective identification was made of patients 18 years or younger who underwent sentinel lymph node biopsy for clinically localized melanoma at Indiana University Medical Center between 1994 and 2001. Patient demographics, primary tumor thickness, location of primary tumor, presence of tumor ulceration, number of lymph nodes removed, pathology of examined nodes, and number of lymph nodes involved with tumor were recorded. Disease status and dates of last clinical contact were determined.


Twelve patients, 18 years or younger, were identified. Mean age of the study population was 14.1 years (range, 4 to 18). Mean tumor thickness was 1.65 mm (range, 0.36 to 4.7 mm). Three patients (25%) had positive sentinel lymph node biopsies. All 3 patients underwent completion lymph node dissection (CLND). One patient had micrometastatic disease detected on CLND; he had recurrence 6.1 months later and died 7.5 months after his SLND/CLND. At a median follow-up of 11.7 months, the remaining 11 patients had not experienced recurrence. There were no complications related to the SLNB procedure.


The minimally invasive surgical approach and limited complications associated with SLNB make this procedure a useful aid in assisting the physician in making therapeutic decisions in the pediatric melanoma patient.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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