Background: Lymphatic mapping and sentinel lymph node biopsy is an established technique for the staging and treatment of melanoma. The success of lymphatic mapping in this realm has broadened its application to other solid neoplasms. This update reviews the status of sentinel lymph node biopsy in its most widely cited applications.
Methods: Seminal manuscripts on lymphatic mapping in melanoma, breast, colon, vulvar, cervical, lung, gastric, and head and neck cancers are reviewed.
Results: Studies suggest that the application of lymphatic mapping as a staging tool in breast cancer and melanoma is justified when applied by trained surgeons. Additional validation is necessary before sentinel node biopsy is advocated in gynecologic, colon, lung, and head and neck cancer.
Conclusions: As in breast cancer and melanoma, validation of the sentinel node concept in other solid tumors must occur in institutions other than those in which the technique is being developed before it is generally applied to other neoplasms.