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imageObjective
Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy is a widely accepted staging procedure for cutaneous melanoma patients who are at risk of clinically occult nodal metastases. Numerous predictive factors for regional lymph node metastases have been identified; however, few have been found to be reproducibly significant. Also, the role of blue dye in identification was questioned in recent trials. Time to procedure was also found to be predictive of SLN positivity, but this was not confirmed in other studies. In our study, predictive factors for metastatic involvement of SLN were analyzed, together with the role of addition blue dye in imaging on detection rate and false-negative SLN rate. An impact of time interval to procedure on the rate of SLN positivity was also explored.
Methods
Data analysis was done in 362 cutaneous melanoma patients who underwent lymphoscintigraphy and SLN biopsy at our institution from 2010 to 2016, with a median follow-up of 29 months (1–98 months). To delineate the relation of each variable (demographical, time to procedure, and clinical and pathological variables, as well as the presence of in-transit nodes, the number of draining basins, and SLN localization on scintigraphy) with positive SLN status, we used univariate logistic regression with odds ratios representing effect size.
Results
Metastatic involvement SLN was found in 67 (18.8%) of 356 patients. Detection rate was similar with or without further intraoperative SLN identification with blue dye (98.8% vs 98.17%, P > 0.05). Time to procedure was not associated with higher SLN positivity rate (P > 0.05). In univariate analysis, Breslow thickness (P < 0.001), primary ulceration lesion (P = 0.001), and lymphovascular invasion (P = 0.006) were strongly correlated with SLN positivity, as well as the site of primary tumor (P = 0.024), tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) (P = 0.021), and sex (P = 0.026). In multivariate analysis, Breslow thickness and TILs were found to be significant independent predictors of SLN status (P < 0.05).
Conclusions
Addition of blue dye did not improve SLN detection rate; time to procedure was not found to be associated with higher SLN biopsy positivity rates. Breslow thickness and TILs, as a marker of immune response to tumor, were consistently found to be significant independent predictors of SLN status.

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