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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

  • 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 7 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.

      Comment
  • Sheila Anderson Profile

    I am waiting on biopsy of my breast. Has anyone had double mastectomy with reconstruction? I was thinking implants. Wanted to think about treatment options. Is it a good idea to take everything out to save my life and prevent recurrence ?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Ana Naluh Andrade Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      That's exactly what I did. Both surgeons, oncologist and plastic, working together, at the same surgery. I had expanders put on. It's really uncomfortable, but they're temporary. Now I'm done, with the right implants on, niples and tattoos! No regrets at all!!

      1 comment
    • Casey Chernes Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Hi, I had a lump in my right breast... Was diagnosed stage 2 before surgery... They can't do full staging until after surgery... I chose a double mastectomy hoping my chances of reacurance would be lessened... I had the DIEP flap reconstruction... Had a little trouble with my left breast nit...

      more

      Hi, I had a lump in my right breast... Was diagnosed stage 2 before surgery... They can't do full staging until after surgery... I chose a double mastectomy hoping my chances of reacurance would be lessened... I had the DIEP flap reconstruction... Had a little trouble with my left breast nit taking so I will have to have an implant on the left... But everyone is different... Hope this helped!

      Comment
  • Michele Baker Profile

    Having a stereotactic biopsy next week. I'm very nervous. How long does the needle stay in my body?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Blanca Polo Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Take deep breaths and do NOT move. Stay still. I did just that and had no pain at all

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Michele, I agree with Mary about everything she said. You will feel some pain as the area is numbed. You will feel pressure. Take a valium or similar drug... but you will need to have someone drive you back.
      Fear creeps in because of the unknown. You have never had anything like this done...

      more

      Michele, I agree with Mary about everything she said. You will feel some pain as the area is numbed. You will feel pressure. Take a valium or similar drug... but you will need to have someone drive you back.
      Fear creeps in because of the unknown. You have never had anything like this done and you can only imagine what it will be like... totally a human thing to happen. The procedure is relatively quick, but you will spend time waiting.... for the doctor, for the anesthetic to take effect, and for the result to come back. I think we can all say the wait for the results was the worst of all. I will tell you the results will be back within a week. Try to keep yourself busy, Most of these things come back benign. In fact, one of my friends just had this same procedure done and it was benign. I really wish you the very best. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Lou Cam Profile

    My surgery was April 9. Last few days , I have a large, red, sore , warm lump at incision site under arm. Redness is spreading. Also, fever, headache, body aches, chills. Going to doctor tomorrow. Opinions ?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2013
    about 6 years 11 answers
    • View all 11 answers
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Your doctor should have given you instructions on what to do when symptoms occur. If not, this definitely sounds like an infection and should be treated immediately! If your own doctors office can't take you right away, then go to the hospital emergency now.

      Comment
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      That does not sound good at any level. Can he squeeze you in today? If there is a fever they want to know about it. If it is over 101 go to urgent care or ER. Now!!!!

      Comment

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