Description of Medical ServiceSentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNBx) is a procedure performed to determine if melanoma cells have spread to the sentinel lymph nodes for patients with intermediate thickness melanoma.
SLNBx with excision of lymph node(s) is identified by a combination of blue dye (lymphotropic dye injection) and lymphoscintography/gamma probe, ideally performed at the time of the primary melanoma wide excision.
Description of Medical ConditionMelanoma is a malignancy of skin pigment cells (melanocytes). The lifetime risk for melanoma in Australia is 1 in 24 for males and 1 in 35 for females. In 2011 there were 11,500 new cases diagnosed in Australia (Cancer Council Australia) and more than 1,500 die each year from the disease.
About 70% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage (<1.0mm thickness) where 5-year survival is > 95%. With increasing depth, there is a stepwise decline in survival. Sentinel node status is the most significant prognostic indicator in patients with intermediate thickness melanoma. Patients with intermediate thickness melanoma (1.0-4.0mm depth) have an increased risk of lymph node involvement and hence poorer survival.
Reason for ApplicationNew MBS item
Medical Service TypeInvestigative
Previous Application NumberNot Applicable
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