<bold>The aim of the study</bold> was to evaluate the experience of the centre in carrying out and assessing the use of sentinel node biopsy in skin melanoma.
<bold>Material and methods.</bold> From 2000 to 2004, a sentinel node biopsy was carried out on 227 patients being treated for skin melanoma. In all the patients, the sentinel node was subjected to a standard histological evaluation with the application of H+E staining. If no melanoma cells were visualised within the sentinel node, the material was subjected to an immunohistochemical investigation. The patients whose sentinel node included metastases found in the H+E examination or micrometastases identified by means of the immunohistochemical investigation were subjected to a supplementary lymphadenectomy.
<bold>Results.</bold> The sentinel node was identified in all the patients. In a group of 28 patients (12.3%), the presence of metastases within the sentinel node was visualised by means of H+E examination. A group of 199 patients (87.66%) with a metastases-negative sentinel node (H+E staining) was subjected to immunohistochemical evaluation, which revealed the presence of micrometastases in 45 patients (19.82%). Supplementary lymphadenectomy was carried out in patients who screened positive, and metastases were identified in other regional lymph nodes in 11 (4.8%) patients.
<bold>Conclusions.</bold> 1. After finishing the learning curve, the sentinel node biopsy is a simple and effective method, enabling precise assessment of the lymphatic system in patients with skin melanoma. 2. The application of immunohistochemical investigation enabled the identification of micrometastases in 19.8% of the patients, where these were not found in the H+E examination. 3. The application of sentinel node biopsy allowed lymphadenectomy to be avoided in 154 (67.8%) patients.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.