, Volume 389, Issue 6, pp 532-550
Date: 09 Jun 2004

Sentinel lymph node biopsy progress in surgical treatment of cancer

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Forty-three years after the first description of the sentinel lymph node technique in malignant tumours of the parotid by Gould, sentinel lymph node biopsy (SNLB) has become a precious tool in the treatment of solid tumours.


In the following review we give a synopsis of the fundamentals of the sentinel lymph node concept and then proceed to an overview of recent advances of SNLB in gastrointestinal cancers.


In some tumour entities, SNLB has been shown to reflect reliably the lymph node status of the tumour-draining lymph node basin. In melanoma and breast cancer, it became a widely accepted element of the routine surgical management of these malignant diseases. In gastrointestinal tumours, the technique is currently under intense investigation. First reports on its application in other solid tumours, such as non-small cell lung cancer, thyroid carcinoma, oropharyngeal carcinoma, vulvar carcinoma, and Merckel cell carcinoma of the skin, were published more recently.


SNLB has become an important component of diagnosis and treatment of solid tumours. A growing number of publications on SNLB in gastrointestinal cancer documents the interest of many investigators in the application of this technique in this tumour entity. As long as imaging techniques like 18FDG PET or other molecular imaging techniques are limited by their spatial resolution, SNLB remains the technique of choice for lympho-nodal staging.