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South Africa, with its sunny climate and poor personal ultraviolet protection measures, has one of the highest incidences of malignant melanoma in the world, comparable that to frontrunner Australia. More than 90% of cases of skin cancer are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This exposure increases the risk of all three common types of skin cancer, namely malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma of which malignant melanoma followed by SCC are the most aggressive forms.

It has been demonstrated that there is no improved survival benefit in elective whole nodal basin excision, with a concomitant increased level of morbidity. It would therefore be preferable to avoid dissection of lymph nodes where there is clearly no metastatic involvement, by means of sentinel node mapping.

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