Discussing Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy With Your Melanoma Patients

July 2010 | Volume 9 | Issue 7 | Original Article | 790 | Copyright © July 2010

Brooke T. Baldwin MD, Basil S. Cherpelis MD, Neil Alan Fenske MD

Sentinel lymph node biopsy, indicated for stage 1B/2 melanoma may be an underutilized diagnostic modality. Experts in the field agree that sentinel lymph node biopsy should be offered to patients with T1 melanomas with primary tumor ulceration, a mitotic rate greater than or equal to 1/mm2, and/or Clark level IV/V invasion especially if tumor thickness exceeds 0.75 mm. It is the responsibility of practitioners to characterize patients as eligible or non-eligible for the sentinel node procedure. Furthermore, it is important to obtain a fully informed consent and explain to patients the statistics of the progonostic information garnered by the test.