Decision-making about sentinel lymph node biopsy in patients with thin melanoma

Section of Surgical Oncology

Treatment for melanoma depends on the stage of the cancer and how deep it is under the skin. The deeper the cancer, the greater chance that it may spread to other parts of the body. For some stages of melanoma, the best approach is to remove the primary cancer plus a few nearby lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread (called a “sentinel lymph node biopsy”). The results of this procedure help plan future treatment. For most stages of melanoma, a surgeon is able to make a strong recommendation about whether or not a sentinel lymph node biopsy would help. But for a stage I melanoma, there is a grey area, and it is reasonable to decide to have a sentinel lymph node biopsy, or not to have it. This project is investigating ways to support patients’ decisions about sentinel lymph node biopsy.

This project is led by Dr. Keenan Robbins, a general surgery resident, and mentored by Dr. Ryan Fields and Dr. Mary Politi.