Lymph Node Surgeries
There are two types of lymph node surgery. Each is performed for specific reasons. Your breast cancer surgeon will recommend the one that's right for your condition. Your surgeon will discuss with you the risks, including the risk of lymphedema, a potential side effect in which a buildup of fluid causes swelling in the arm. Our breast cancer surgeons use the latest techniques to remove lymph nodes -- whether during a biopsy, mastectomy, or lumpectomy -- in order to minimize these risks.
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
Sentinel lymph node biopsy may be recommended when lymph nodes appear normal and seem unlikely to contain cancer cells. The breast surgeon injects a radioactive tracer and/or blue dye into the breast and observes the tracer’s path to identify the sentinel lymph nodes. These are the first ones that a breast tumor would drain into if your cancer has spread. The lymph nodes are removed and tested for cancer. This procedure requires fewer lymph nodes to be removed and dramatically reduces your chances of developing lymphedema.
Axillary Lymph Node Dissection
If the lymph nodes feel abnormal, or if a biopsy has shown the presence of cancer, your breast surgeon may remove 10 or more lymph nodes from under the arm. They are tested for cancer. Axillary lymph node dissection involves a longer recovery and higher risk of lymphedema.