Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that is standard of care for the evaluation of clinically negative regional lymph nodes in patients with cutaneous melanoma. As the presence of metastases dictates patient prognosis and determines the need for further regional disease control or adjuvant therapy, SLNB is invaluable to clinical decision-making in patients presenting with melanoma. However, the indications for SLNB, specifically among patients with thin (<1 mm) or thick (>4 mm) melanomas, remain unclear. A number of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been developed outlining recommendations for the role of lymph node biopsy in the management of melanoma. However, to date, their quality has not been critically appraised. Our objective was to systematically evaluate all available CPGs on this topic using the validated Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE II) instrument. Four total guidelines met the inclusion criteria and underwent appraisal. Only one CPG achieved a “high” quality rating, indicating scores of >60% in at least five of the six AGREE II domains. Across all CPGs, the lowest scoring domains were “Applicability” and “Stakeholder involvement,” which had average scores of 41.2% and 48.3%, respectively. Based on the AGREE II instrument, the quality of existing CPGs for the indications of SLNB for melanoma is low. Future guidelines should be pilot tested to evaluate barriers to application and should utilize multidisciplinary guideline development teams that include patients and key stakeholders in addition to clinical experts from all relevant disciplines.
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