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Treatment

 
Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 6 - Lymph Node Removal

In addition to your surgical procedure, your doctor may wish to remove and examine lymph nodes; this is to determine whether the cancer has spread and to what extent. Your doctor will perform a Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy and/or an Axillary Node Dissection. Let’s discuss both methods.

Sentinel Lymph Nodes and Sentinel Node Biopsy
While it is not easily controlled, the spread of cancer is sometimes predictable. The cancer cells spread through a customary path, out from the tumor and into the surrounding lymph nodes, before they progress throughout the body.

To be able to identify the sentinel lymph node, the surgeon will inject dye or a radioactive tracer into the tissue near the tumor; the lymph nodes that are the most susceptible to the cancer’s spread will be marked by the dye or a radioactive tracer. During surgery, the lymph nodes will be removed and checked for the presence of cancer cells.

Axillary Node Dissection
To determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, examinations can be performed with ultrasound and more carefully by removing one or more of the first draining lymph nodes with sentinel lymph node biopsy. Patients with a tumor that has spread to these lymph nodes may require complete removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit, a procedure known as an axillary lymph node dissection. An axillary dissection is generally performed subsequent to a sentinel lymph node biopsy, unless a woman has had a positive fine needle aspirate of a lymph node.

A mastectomy or lumpectomy operation often includes a sentinel node biopsy and/or an axillary node dissection; both procedures involve a separate incision for lumpectomy patients. Following surgery, the pathologist will test the lymph nodes to determine whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.

Lymphedema
Removing lymph nodes raises your risk for developing Lymphedema, a condition that may cause abnormal swelling of the arm, breast, axilla, or chest wall on the side of your cancer. Swelling up to one month after surgery is not unusual and does not indicate the presence of lymphedema. However, if you experience new or persistent swelling in these areas after one month has elapsed since your surgery, you should notify your doctor.

Related Questions

  • Lorie Maddox Profile

    11 days since stereotactic breast biopsy (Dx DCIS) I'm experiencing pain, numbness and hypersensitivity (all at the same time-awesome) in the biopsied breast. Is this common?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 4 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • joan jones Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 0 Patient

      Agree - call the doctor to be sure ...
      But I experienced swelling and annoying discomfort post biopsy .
      And all was "normal " per the doctor - but I did report my concerns .
      Best wishes and keep us posted

      1 comment
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I say yes, it is common, but you should call the dr or speak with the nurse and tell them how you are feeling. I'm sure they will just say to ice the area and take some Tylenol. Prayers to you.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I had a second surgery as they didn't get clear margins the first time. So far I am stage 2a grade 3 2 lymph nodes involved. Is that bad? Still draining so can't get chemo yet.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    about 6 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Breast cancer IS just plain bad! I was 2A and after my surgery was downgraded to a 2B because I had one lymph node positive. It is better if you don't have any lymph node involvement but you deal with what you have. Not knowing any more about your breast cancer except stage and grade,(type) 2A...

      more

      Breast cancer IS just plain bad! I was 2A and after my surgery was downgraded to a 2B because I had one lymph node positive. It is better if you don't have any lymph node involvement but you deal with what you have. Not knowing any more about your breast cancer except stage and grade,(type) 2A has you far from the end of your rope. Your surgeon and/or oncologist will go over all of your tests before you go on to the next part of your treatment. You are at a very treatable stage so you will be ok. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I had lumpectomy then a second to clean up margins by the everything was done I was stage III ER no nodes. Mentally and emotionaly I was a wreck. I'm not a stupid person but I just get my head wrapped around everything. Everyday more life changing decisions to make. I had to make decisions about...

      more

      I had lumpectomy then a second to clean up margins by the everything was done I was stage III ER no nodes. Mentally and emotionaly I was a wreck. I'm not a stupid person but I just get my head wrapped around everything. Everyday more life changing decisions to make. I had to make decisions about issues I didn't think I had full understanding. Looking back I think it was denial. Breast cancer is a very bumpy road and so indivdual I finely figured out to trust my doctors/nurses/trusted and my good judgement.

      Comment
  • Jennifer Marks Profile

    I found a lump in my right breast and am going for a biopsy on Monday. (after an ultrasound where they found a suspicious mass) Should I be worried?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 7 years 10 answers
    • View all 10 answers
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2006

      Hi Jennifer I would not be honest if I were to tell you not to worry. It's only human to worry especially when you are waiting for results of any kind. However, I will tell you try not to dwell on the outcome pray and ask God to give you strength and peace until they are received. I will also ...

      more

      Hi Jennifer I would not be honest if I were to tell you not to worry. It's only human to worry especially when you are waiting for results of any kind. However, I will tell you try not to dwell on the outcome pray and ask God to give you strength and peace until they are received. I will also be praying for you. Stay encouraged maintain your Faith and Hope. Remember all If not most of us on this site are here to support you.

      Love and Blessings
      Your Sister of Hope!!!

      Comment
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Jennifer, i know finding a lump is scary. I've been there. You're doing the right thing by having a biopsy. It's difficult waiting for the results but, just know that 80% of biopsies are benign. So keep your chin up and I'll say a prayer that you're in that 80%! Take care. :)

      Comment
  • Susan Green Profile

    Has anyone had the dye for mapping out the lymph nodes before surgery had this done without a local anesthesia?

    Asked by anonymous

    Patient
    over 6 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I must have been born with non-functioning nerves.... I, too, had the mapping done and don't remember it being anything other than a bit of stinging but tolerable.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I had it done without anything - it was horrible. I remember my surgeon saying "it will feel like a bee sting" and she gave me the injection. I sat straight up and ( I can take pain) and had tears running down my cheeks and said 'oh my goodness' "NO"!!! She said 'what's wrong' I said that wasn't...

      more

      I had it done without anything - it was horrible. I remember my surgeon saying "it will feel like a bee sting" and she gave me the injection. I sat straight up and ( I can take pain) and had tears running down my cheeks and said 'oh my goodness' "NO"!!! She said 'what's wrong' I said that wasn't a dang bee sting it was a swarm or hornets and she said "GREAT ; that means it hasn't moved out of the lymph nodes"! That was true it hadn't but it was the worse feeling ever!!! I know what your talking about.

      1 comment

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