Glasgow, Scotland—Plastic surgeons at Canniesburn Hospital in Glasgow have successfully applied the technique of sentinel node biopsy to patients with oral cancer.
"If the sentinel node is free of tumor metastases, it is highly unlikely that the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes, and a regional lymph node dissection can be avoided," said Taimur Shoaib, MD, a research fellow in head and neck surgery at the hospital.
The investigative technique is best known for its application in patients with melanoma and breast cancer, where the sentinel node has been shown to be the first node to which these cancers spread. In such patients, the sentinel node is identified by injecting a combination of blue dye and a radioactive colloid into the tissues that surround a tumor and tracing them to the first lymph node draining the injection site. A pathologist excises and examines this lymph node, which stains blue and emits radioactivity, for the presence of tumor.
Fitzpatrick M. Sentinel Node Biopsy Successful in Patients With Oral Cancer. JAMA. 1999;282(12):1119-1120. doi:10.1001/jama.282.12.1119-JMN0922-3-1