Interview with Stanley Leong, MD Surgical Oncology at California Pacific Medical Center

S. Leong is leading a melanoma clinical study with Sentinella. 100 patients are included where the primary goal is to locate and remove sentinel lymph nodes that can be missed by the current surgical technique.

Q: Dr. Leong, how do you usually proceed in the OR and why Sentinella is so important for your clinical study?

A: Traditionally when we look for the sentinel nodes in the OR, we use a gamma probe.  The problem with the gamma probe is that it is almost like a torchlight in a dark cave. You can search in the dark cave with a torchlight, which is quite effective, but sometimes you can miss a few things in the dark area.

Sentinella is an intraoperative gamma imaging camera that can show the entire field and it’s almost like a bright light being turned on. Sentinella will show if a lymph node is left behind. Then, we go back again and take out the extra lymph node. Sentinella is a very useful intraoperative camera, which complements the utility of the gamma probe.

Q: Could you tell us more about the melanoma study with Sentinella?

A: I cannot give you the exact details, because the study is ongoing, but we have some preliminary data to show that Sentinella will decrease the false negative rate, which means that there are sentinel lymph nodes that contain metastatic melanoma cells that have been identified by Sentinella, but otherwise would not have been identified.

Also, Sentinella increases the positive identification rate, both in terms of the number of the lymph nodes and also patient wise.

As Sentinella finds more positive lymph nodes, more patients may be treated appropriately.

Q: Do you recommend the Sentinella intraoperative gamma camera in the OR?

A: Of course, for me it is very encouraging to say that we have found, in some patients, lymph nodes that normally we would not be able to remove and with Sentinella we have removed them. I am looking forward to the conclusion of this important study.


At the time of this interview Stanley Leong MD Oncology Surgery at CPMC, have complete 60 patients of the 100 of its study.