Doctors debate study on sentinel node biopsy

08/23/2011 | Medscape (free registration)

A recent study published online in the journal Cancer concludes that surgeons should perform sentinel lymph node biopsy in patients with melanoma of the head or neck, but a critic said the study does not convincingly prove an advantage. The study authors said that a positive biopsy allows doctors to recommend a complete lymphadenectomy and a referral to an oncologist for adjuvant therapy or participation in clinical trials. But "there is no other example in medicine where patients undergo an invasive surgical procedure in order to qualify for adjuvant therapy or entry into adjuvant trials," said J. Meirion Thomas, from the Royal Marsden Hospital and Imperial College in London.

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