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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

  • Cyndi Zimmerman Profile

    What is stage 2B breast cancer including lymph node ducts?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 3 answers
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2006

      Cyndi this site has an excellent explanation of the various stages under the learn category. If you still have questions regarding your stage your oncologist

      Comment
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2006

      Sorry I accidently hit the done key before finishing. But I was going to say ask your oncologist to explain in more details so that you are very clear on your stage.

      Comment
  • J ARCHER Profile

    I had my first mammogram last Tues. and "more images" needed, then got "8 sample core biopsy" for "amorphous calcium deposits" Anyone had this and gotten great benign news?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I have had three friends have biopsy's because of these specks of calcium and their tests came back benign. They were all in their 50's. Another friend age 44 had the same thing and it came back DCIS. She is just completely her treatment which consisted of a mastectomy but no other treatment. ...

      more

      I have had three friends have biopsy's because of these specks of calcium and their tests came back benign. They were all in their 50's. Another friend age 44 had the same thing and it came back DCIS. She is just completely her treatment which consisted of a mastectomy but no other treatment. She is in the process of having reconstruction. She had to have a mastectomy because it was so wide spread. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Bonnie Irwin Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I am 41. I went in for my first mammogram and they found areas of concern. So after ultrasound and biopsies they said it was DCIS. Everyone said if you were to have cancer, this is the one to have. It is considered stage zero. Before they would perform the lumpectomy they ordered an MRI to...

      more

      I am 41. I went in for my first mammogram and they found areas of concern. So after ultrasound and biopsies they said it was DCIS. Everyone said if you were to have cancer, this is the one to have. It is considered stage zero. Before they would perform the lumpectomy they ordered an MRI to make sure there wasn't anything else and to verify the size of the DCIS. The MRI showed up against my chest wall was a small tumor. The biopsy after that showed to be invasive breast cancer. Just like that, everything changed. The mammogram did not see this. Now I have had a mastectomy on the left side. The MRI also showed concerns on the other side, but they were benign. The surgeon did lumpectomy on the right side. I also had a pet scan. Neither the petscan nor the MRI showed any cancer in the lymph nodes. But after the lymph node dissection, 2 of 14 were positive for cancer. I hope they order an MRI for you, unless your biopsies turn out benign. I remember when they first found the calcium deposits they said they were going to biopsy them "to prove they weren't cancer". So there is hope!

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    can the stage of breast cancer be determined without a biopsy?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 3 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      The short answer is no. Margins around the tumor and lymph node involvement along with possible spread outside these areas must be established.

      Comment
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      No the tissue needs to be studied by the pathologists.

      Comment
  • Cindy Jameson Profile

    I have recurrent breast cancer, it is now in the lymph nodes, does the survival rate go down with recurrent cancer?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 1 answer
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Cindy, i don't know the answer to your question but there is a wonderful support board at breastcancer.org. I am stage 3C and have found out so much info there. There is a group of stage 4 ladies that are wonderful. Good luck in your journey!!

      Comment

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