Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to the surrounding organs and cause death. A sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is done in patients with melanoma to investigate the spread of the disease.
SLNB is generally performed for melanoma when one or more of the following are true:
- Melanoma is equal to or greater than 1 mm in depth
- Presence of an ulcerated tumor of any thickness
- Invasion of cancer cells to the lymphatic channels or blood vessels
- Margins taken during biopsy reveals melanoma
However, SLNB should not be considered during the following conditions:
- The size of melanoma is less than 0.76 mm and presents no risk factors
- If melanoma extended to lymph node is in stage III
- The melanoma has spread to distant organs (stage IV)
What is a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
A sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is a specialized procedure to identify, remove, or examine any cancer cells present in the sentinel lymph nodes. It is usually performed in people diagnosed with melanoma cancer. If melanoma spreads, it will first extend to the nearest lymph node, that is, the sentinel lymph node.
Melanoma first extends to a group of lymph nodes known as the sentinel lymph nodes. Most of the individuals usually have between one and five sentinel lymph nodes.
A positive SLNB indicates that cancer has spread to the sentinel lymph nodes or other nearby lymph nodes. It also helps the physician to determine the exact stage of cancer and develop an appropriate treatment plan for the same.
Enlarged, irregular, firm, and palpable nodes may require a fine needle aspiration biopsy rather than SLNB.
How is a sentinel lymph node biopsy performed?
A sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) has two parts:
- Lymphatic mapping
- Surgical procedure
Lymphatic mapping or lymphoscintigram usually involves injecting radioactive dye in the skin around the site of the original melanoma. The physician then with the help of a special camera locates the radioactive material as it travels from the original melanoma site to the sentinel lymph nodes.
After the completion of lymphatic mapping, the physician injects a second blue dye to visualize the lymph nodes already located by the specialized camera. The physician removes the sentinel lymph nodes and sends it for examination.
Another procedure for a biopsy includes wide local excision. In this, the physician removes the melanoma along with the biopsy tissue and some normal tissue surrounding it.
What are the outcomes of a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
After examination of the biopsied tissue, the sentinel lymph node may show evidence of melanoma in them. If the sentinel lymph nodes don’t show any evidence of melanoma, it is improbable that cancer has spread to the remaining lymph nodes, and no further surgery is needed. Completion lymph node dissection (CLND) is the complete removal of the affected sentinel lymph nodes and remaining lymph nodes in that area and is useful if one or more of the sentinel lymph nodes is positive for melanoma.
What are the complications of a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
The complications of a sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) include:
- Seroma (fluid buildup in the biopsied area)
- Thickening or hardening of the skin at the biopsy site
- Allergic reaction to blue dyes
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Melanoma Related Articles
Desmoplastic Melanoma PictureDesmoplastic melanoma is a rare and invasive form of skin cancer that represents about 4 percent of all skin melanomas. The malignant cells are within the dermis and are surrounded by fibrous tissue so they may look like a scar in texture and appearance. It is usually found in older individuals who have sun damaged skin and is most often found on areas of the skin exposed to the sun such as the face, neck, scalp, legs, and arms.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between Melanoma and Seborrheic Keratosis?Learn the difference between melanoma and seborrheic keratosis and how to treat each condition.
Eye Cancer: Intraocular (Uveal) aMelanoma TreatmentMelanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that develops when the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) that give the skin its color, which are also present in the eyes, become cancerous. When melanoma develops in the cells of the eye, it is known as intraocular melanoma. Treatments for intraocular melanoma include surgery, watchful waiting, radiation therapy, photocoagulation, and thermotherapy.
Melanoma (Skin Cancer)Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which begins in skin cells called melanocytes and affects more than 53,600 people in the United States each year. These melanocytes can grow together to form benign moles which, after a change in size, shape, or color can be a sign of melanoma. Caused by sun exposure, early detection becomes extremely important to avoid a spread to other areas of the body. Diagnosis is confirmed through a biopsy of the abnormal skin and treatment depends on the extent and characteristics of the patient. Metastatic melanoma is melanoma that has spread to various organs.
pembrolizumabPembrolizumab is a medication used to treat many cancers as a targeted therapy that does not directly kill cancer cells but alters a specific cell mechanism that promotes cancer growth and spread. Common side effects of pembrolizumab include fatigue, fever, pain, headache, peripheral nerve damage (neuropathy), musculoskeletal pain, joint pain (arthralgia), muscle pain (myalgia), back pain, weakness (asthenia), neck pain, muscle inflammation (myositis), joint inflammation (arthritis), decreased appetite, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, swallowing difficulties (dysphagia), colon inflammation (colitis), and others. Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Skin Cancer QuizWhat causes skin cancer? Take our Skin Cancer Quiz to learn about the risks, symptoms, causes, and treatments for this common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
Skin Cancer SlideshowDiscover the causes, types, and treatments of skin cancer. Learn how to prevent skin cancer and how to check for melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Also, find out how to spot the early signs of skin cancer.
Sty (Stye)A sty is a bump that forms on the eyelid as a result of a blocked gland. Styes may be caused by infections, burns, or trauma to the eyelid. Most styes resolve on their own. The application of warm compresses can speed healing. In some cases, steroid injection or incision and drainage may be necessary. Keeping the area clean and consuming a diet high in omega-3-fatty acids may help prevent the formation of styes.
Tolak (fluorouracil) CreamTolak (fluorouracil) is a prescription cream used to treat skin lesions on the face, ears, or scalp called actinic keratosis caused by sun damage on the skin. Serious side effects of Tolak Cream include skin reactions, possible allergic reactions, and eye problems when the eyes are exposed to the cream.
What Do the Early Signs of Melanoma Look Like?Malignant melanoma is a one of the subtypes of skin cancer, a highly aggressive one that tends to spread to other parts of the body. Non-melanoma skin cancers are comparatively less aggressive. Self-examination of the skin for suspicious changes, changes in existing moles, non-healing inflammation, ulcers or other abnormalities can help detect skin cancer at its earliest stages.
What Happens if Melanoma Gets Into Lymph Nodes?Melanoma is a rapidly progressive type of skin cancer. The treatment of melanoma depends on the stage of the disease. Lymph nodes are small glands that are part of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is involved in the formations of the white blood cells or WBCs. It is also the site where lymph, a clear fluid containing the white blood cells, is filtered.