Sentinel lymph node biopsy for head and neck melanomas.

Celia Chao, Sandra L. Wong, Michael J. Edwards, Merrick I. Ross, Douglas S. Reintgen, R. Dirk Noyes, Wayne K. Stadelmann, Eric Lentsch, Kelly M. McMasters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy for head and neck (H&N) melanomas may be more technically challenging compared with other locations because of complex lymphatic drainage patterns. This analysis was performed to compare the results of SLN biopsy for H&N, truncal, and extremity melanomas. METHODS: The Sunbelt Melanoma Trial includes patients aged 18 to 70 with melanomas > or = 1.0 mm thick. Statistical comparison was performed by chi2 or analysis of variance test. RESULTS: A total of 2610 patients were evaluated with a median follow-up of 18 months. The mean number of SLN per nodal basin was 2.8, 2.7, and 2.1 for H&N, truncal, and extremity melanomas, respectively. Median Clark level, Breslow thickness, and percentage of ulceration were similar between the groups. Peri-parotid SLN was identified in 25% of cases; there were no facial nerve injuries. SLN biopsy for H&N melanoma had higher false-negative rates at 1.5% (vs. 0.5% for trunk or extremity) but less histologically positive SLN at 15% (vs. 23.4%, and 19.5%; P <.001) compared with truncal and extremity melanoma. Blue dye was visualized less frequently in SLN of H&N melanoma patients compared with those with trunk or extremity melanomas. CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative lymphoscintigraphy and meticulous intraoperative search for blue/radioactive nodes may improve results in H&N melanomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of surgical oncology : the official journal of the Society of Surgical Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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