Current Treatment Options in Oncology

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 318–326 | Cite as

Surgical Treatment of Melanoma Patients with Early Sentinel Node Involvement

  • Rosemarie E. Hardin
  • Julie R. LangeEmail author
Skin Cancer (WH Sharfman, Section Editor)

Opinion statement

Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is a standard staging procedure for many patients with clinically node negative, invasive melanoma, providing excellent prognostic information in appropriately selected patients. The broad acceptance of SLNB into clinical practice has resulted in substantial numbers of patients found to have microscopic nodal metastases. For patients with a positive sentinel node, a completion lymph node dissection (CLND) is the current standard of care. The majority of patients who undergo CLND are found to have histologically negative non-sentinel nodes, and yet are exposed to the potential morbidity of CLND, including infection, wound complications, and lymphedema. We do not yet know if there is a survival benefit from CLND that justifies its morbidity and we are currently unable to identify clinical and pathologic factors that may be associated with the likelihood of benefit from CLND. Controversy regarding the management of melanoma patients with a positive sentinel node highlights the need for continued investigation in melanoma biology, treatment, and outcomes. Patients with minimal tumor burden in their regional nodes would especially benefit from a better understanding of the appropriate management strategies. Ongoing clinical trials are aimed at determining whether CLND is superior to nodal observation and surveillance in patients with positive sentinel nodes, and at determining the outcome of patients with minimal disease in their sentinel node who forego CLND. These studies may help to resolve the uncertainties of the management in these patients. Until we have further information, CLND for melanoma patients with positive sentinel nodes remains the preferred, standard management strategy.


melanoma sentinel node lymph node dissection 



No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Johns Hopkins MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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