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Negative Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy in Patients with Melanoma: The Patient’s Perspective

Sarah Banting BBiomed, Donna Milne RN, PhD, Tina Thorpe RN, Lumine Na MS, John Spillane MBBS, FRACS, David Speakman MBBS, FRACS, Michael A. Henderson MBBS, BMedSc, MD, FRACS, David E. Gyorki MBBS, MD, FRACS
Melanoma
Volume 26, Issue 7 / July , 2019

Abstract

Background

The majority of patients undergoing sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) for melanoma will have a negative SLN. The long-term sequelae of a negative result are important when discussing this staging investigation with patients. The objective of this study was to assess rates of lymphoedema and quality of life for these patients.

Methods

A prospective, cross-sectional study was performed on patients under routine follow-up with a history of melanoma, who had undergone sentinel lymph node biopsy where no metastasis was found (N0) at a high-volume melanoma centre. Relevant limbs were measured to assess for lymphoedema and patients completed the FACT-M quality of life instrument and a study specific questionnaire.

Results

A total of 102 patients were recruited. Wound complications were observed in 25% and lymphoedema in 2% of patients. Physical and functional well-being scores were lowest in patients seen within 3 months of their SLNB. Functional well-being and quality of life improved over the 2 years following the procedure.

Conclusions

SLNB has low complication rates. The procedure is associated with a short-term impact on patient quality of life and well-being. The vast majority of patients are pleased with the outcomes of this procedure and the information that it provides.

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