A sentinel node biopsy is done to see if breast cancer has spread
to the lymph nodes. Most
of the lymph nodes in the breast area are located in the armpit. In this
biopsy, your doctor removes certain lymph nodes, called sentinel lymph nodes,
and has them tested for cancer. The sentinel nodes are the first lymph nodes
that the cancer would travel to from the breast. The results show if the cancer
could have moved beyond the breast.
A blue dye or a radioactive
material called a tracer—or both—will be injected into your breast. This
material then flows through the lymph system. This helps the doctor find the
correct lymph nodes. Your doctor will then make a small cut (incision), remove
the sentinel nodes, and have them tested for cancer. The incision will leave a
scar that usually fades with time. The blue dye leaves a blue mark on your
breast that will fade in a few weeks.
If your cancer has spread,
you and your doctor will discuss what you can do. Your doctor may remove more
lymph nodes, or you may decide to use chemotherapy or radiation.
sentinel node biopsy takes about an hour, and you will probably go home the
same day. Most women can return to work and their usual routine in 2 to 7
If, during the biopsy, your doctor thinks the cancer has
spread, he or she may go ahead and remove more lymph nodes.
sentinel node biopsy often is done at the same time as other breast surgeries.
If this is the case, you will get information about the other procedures too.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all
appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good
idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you
procedure can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you
can expect and how to safely prepare for your procedure.
Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed
Enter U700 in the search box to learn more about "Sentinel Node Biopsy for Breast Cancer: Before Your Procedure."
Current as of:
July 26, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Laura S. Dominici, MD - General Surgery,
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