Melanoma Cancer Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
Learn More About Melanoma Sentinel Node Biopsy: Chat with Us | Email Us
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Melanoma Cancer
Sentinel lymph node biopsy is a less invasive procedure than a traditional lymph node dissection, and is associated with fewer side effects such as lymphedema (fluid build-up and swelling of the affected arm or leg). For this reason, it is now the preferred method of determining whether or not melanoma cancer that is less than 1 mm in thickness has spread to the lymph nodes, if biopsy and imaging results are inconclusive.
The sentinel node is the first lymph node to receive lymphatic drainage from the tumor, and the first place where cells from the melanoma cancer would spread. To identify the sentinel node, your surgeon will inject a small amount of radioactive material or a special blue dye into the melanoma, then check to see where the material goes. The radioactive or blue sentinel node is then removed and examined under a microscope to determine if it contains cancer cells.
If no tumor cells are found in the sentinel node, it is unlikely that the melanoma has spread. However, if melanoma cancer cells are found in the sentinel lymph node biopsy, your surgeon will likely need to remove additional lymph nodes in the area to see how far the cancer has spread.
Next Topic: Radiation Therapy for Melanoma