Sentinel lymph node mapping (SLNM) and dissection (SLND) should be used as an alternative to full inguinofemoral lymph node dissection (IFLND) in select patients with early-stage vulvar cancer. IFLND is associated with high postoperative complications such as wound breakdown, lymphedema, lymphocyst formation, and infection. SLND in select patients offers a safe, effective, and less morbid alternative. Candidates for SLND include patients with a unifocal vulvar tumor less than four centimeters, clinically negative lymph nodes, and no prior inguinofemoral surgeries. SLND should ideally be performed by a high-volume SLN surgeon.

Most commonly, SLND is performed using both radiocolloid lymphoscintigraphy (e.g., Technetium-99) and a visual tracer such as blue dye; however, near infrared imaging with indocyanine green injection is becoming more widely adopted. Further prospective studies are needed to examine the safety and efficacy of various techniques for SLND. SLND has been demonstrated to be cost-effective, especially when including perioperative complications. Further studies are needed to demonstrate quality of life differences between IFLND and SLND.

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