Altered drainage patterns in patients with melanoma and previous axillary dissection

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The incidence of melanoma is increasing rapidly in the United States. Sentinel lymph node biopsy is an important diagnostic tool in the treatment and staging of melanoma. However, many patients with melanoma will have had lymph node surgery for previous melanoma or breast cancer. We set out to examine alterations in drainage patterns in patients with previous axillary dissection for breast cancer. We reviewed four patients with truncal and/or extremity melanomas and examined their lymphoscintigraphy and drainage patterns. Three patients with truncal melanoma mapped to cervical lymph nodes and a fourth patient with an arm melanoma mapped to her previously dissected axilla. Sentinel lymph node mapping is still an important adjunct in patients with melanoma despite previous axillary dissection.

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