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Eur J Surg Oncol. 2002 Sep;28(6):673-8.

Is sentinel node biopsy beneficial in melanoma patients? A report on 200 patients with cutaneous melanoma.

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Department of Surgical Oncology, University Hospital Groningen, The Netherlands.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the reliability and clinical impact of sentinel node biopsy, including preoperative lymphoscintigraphy and intraoperative lymphatic mapping in patients with cutaneous melanoma of the head, neck, trunk or extremities.


Two hundred patients (103 women, 97 men), median age 57 (range 21-86) years with cutaneous melanoma > or =1.0mm Breslow thickness and clinically negative lymph nodes participated in a single institutional prospective study from May 1995 to January 2000. Primary melanoma sites included: 22 head and neck (11%), 67 trunk (34%), 29 upper extremity (14%) and 82 lower extremity (41%). The median Breslow thickness was 2.5 (range 1.0-20.0)mm. Preoperative dynamic and static lymphoscintigraphy, intraoperative blue dye and a gamma detection probe were used. If histological examination with HE or IHC showed metastases, therapeutic lymph node dissection (TLND) was performed.


Sentinel node(s) could be identified in 197 patients (99%); 393 sentinel nodes (mean: 2.0 per patient, range 1-7) were removed from 241 basins. Three procedures failed in the head and neck region. In 167 patients, the sentinel nodes were both blue and radioactive (85%); in 26 patients, they were only radioactive (13%) and in four patients only blue (2%). In total, 150 patients had tumour-negative sentinel nodes (76%). During a median follow-up of 47 (range 24-79) months, nodal recurrence in a negative mapped basin was documented in six patients of which isolated recurrence was in two patients and recurrence together with locoregional recurrence in four patients (false negative rate 6/54=11%). Estimated three-year recurrence-free survival in the node-negative patients and node-positive patients was 83 and 66% respectively (P<0.05). The overall survival at three years was 92 and 73% respectively (P<0.05).


Sentinel node biopsy provides accurate staging and important prognostic information. The final place of sentinel node biopsy is still undefined, and therefore sentinel node biopsy is still considered as an experimental surgical staging procedure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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