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The use of sentinel node biopsy and selective lymphadenectomy in squamous cell carcinoma of the upper limb. Usefulness of sentinel node biopsy to avoid useless lymphadenectomies in high-risk upper limb SCC

Giuseppe Cuccia, Michele R Colonna, Igor Papalia, Benedetto Manasseri, Marco Romeo, Francesco Stagno d'Alcontres
Annali Italiani di Chirurgia 2008, 79 (1): 67-71
18572743

BACKGROUND: Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common skin cancer in humans. Because the incidence of metastasis from SCC of the skin is rare, regional lymphadenectomy is generally not recommended for the patients with clinically node-negative disease. However, in patients with an intermediate and high risk of metastasis, evaluation of the lymph nodes to detect the absence of metastatic nodal disease is a difficult task.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: The authors reviewed the pertinent demographic and surgical data in a consecutive series of six patients with squamous cell carcinoma who underwent sentinel lymph node staging. The tumour size was greater than 2 cm (T2) and the patients had clinically non-palpable regional lymph nodes (N0). All nodes were examined using haematoxylin-eosin staining. Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB) and Selective Lymphadenectomy (SL) using preoperative lymphoscintigraphy and intraoperative radiolymphoscintigraphy and vital dye injections was used to identify the sentinel lymph node avoiding complete axillary node dissection.

RESULTS: No false-negative results were observed. At a median follow-up of 10 months (mean 15 months), neither local or regional recurrences in sentinel node-negative basins have been noted.

CONCLUSIONS: Sentinel node biopsy is a minimally invasive staging procedure useful in identifying occult regional lymph node disease in selected patients with squamous cutaneous malignancies of the arm. Furthermore sentinel lymph node histology is possibly the most important negative predictor of early recurrence and survival in patients with American Joint Committee on Cancer stage I and II squamous cell carcinoma. Although sentinel node-negative patients are a prognostically favourable group, this small series of patients demonstrates that further studies to verify these findings and develop formal guidelines are indicated

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