Radioguided surgery and lymphatic mapping provide more accurate staging and a less morbid operation for the patient with malignant melanoma. It has rapidly become the standard of care for the nodal staging of this disease. Regional and national trials have been designed to address various questions that concern the application of this technique. The Multicenter Selective Lymphadenectomy Trial (MSLT), being performed by Donald Morton at the John Wayne Cancer Institute, is a national trial that will address whether this surgical strategy provides a survival benefit for patients. The national, industry-sponsored SunBelt Melanoma Trial (SBMT), with Kelly McMasters from the University of Louiville as the principle investigator, will determine the role of molecular staging in patients who undergo sentinel lymph node (SLN) harvest. In another arm of the study, the role of adjuvant interferon alfa (IFN) will be examined in patients with minimal disease in the regional basin, those patients with just one microscopically positive SLN. Finally, the Florida Melanoma Trial (FMT), with the central office and laboratory located at the Lakeland Regional Cancer Center, is a regional, industry-sponsored trial that will determine whether all patients with a positive SLN need to undergo a complete lymph node dissection (CLND) of the affected basin. Clinicians await the results of these three trials to help to determine the final role of radioguided surgery in patients with malignant melanoma.
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