The role of elective lymph node dissection (ELND) in the management of primary melanoma of the skin is a controversial subject. Some authorities consider the indications for this procedure to be broad, whereas others rarely recommend ELND. Voluminous literature reflects these divergent opinions. Unfortunately, this can be confusing for the practitioner advising a patient with melanoma. We review arguments for and against ELND and review some of the most important studies of the effects of ELND on survival. We attempt to elucidate the sources of controversy inherent in these survival studies. Criteria for the selection of appropriate candidates for ELND are discussed. ELND with hyperthermic limb perfusion is also briefly reviewed.
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