In the past, lymph node dissection was thought to benefit patients with melanoma. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, however, has shown that it does not seem to have any added benefits. The study concluded that complete lymph node removal was no better than less extensive surgery and observation for extending survival.

Among those who participated in the study, about a quarter developed lymphedema, an unsightly swelling in an arm or leg caused by a lymphatic system blockage. Among those who only had their sentinel node removed, 6.3 percent developed lymphedema, while survival rates remained comparable.

Not only did these patients experience no change in survival rates, they also developed an unsightly condition that could have been avoided. The study supports the hypothesis that “Immediate completion lymph-node dissection was not associated with increased melanoma-specific survival among 1934 patients with data that could be evaluated in an intention-to-treat analysis or among 1755 patients”

Dr. Ralph Massey is a skilled cosmetic and skin cancer surgeon who will assess your needs and develop a safe and effective treatment plan based on your individual situation. Contact us if you’re interested in scheduling an information consultation where you can learn more about skin cancer treatments.

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