One of the first steps that your physician will discuss with you is whether you will be referred for a sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB).
Currently, the SLNB is the standard of care to determine the clinical stage of a melanoma and serves as a gateway for access to adjuvant treatment options. The SLNB is a surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia where a lymph node is removed and examined to determine if the cancer cells of your melanoma have already started to spread. In 80-85%1 of patients undergoing an SLNB, no cancer is detected and you may be exposed to a risk of surgery-related complications.2 Other factors that may impact your quality of life should also be taken into account: stress/anxiety, recovery time, time off from work etc.
The decision of undergoing the sentinel lymph node biopsy depends on your age and several risk factors, such as the thickness of your tumor and the presence of ulceration– evaluated by your physician based on national guidelines for SLNB surgery referral.3