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Melanoma Surgery Gets Broader Scope

Posted: September 29, 2006

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During that time, the overall survival rate between the two groups was similar (around 87%).

But there was an important exception for patients with cancerous lymph nodes.

Of the patients who got sentinel node biopsies that showed cancerous sentinel nodes and had their nearby lymph nodes immediately removed, 72% were alive five years later.

But the five-year survival rate was much lower -- 52% -- for patients with cancerous lymph nodes that were spotted later because they didn't get sentinel lymph node biopsy.

In patients with skin melanomas of medium thickness, sentinel node biopsy "should be preferred to observation," write Morton and colleagues.