Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

A sentinel lymph node biopsy is a surgical procedure used to determine if cancer has spread beyond a primary tumor into your lymphatic system. The sentinel lymph node is the first draining lymph node, typically in the underarm for breast cancer, where cancer cells may start to spread.

During a sentinel node biopsy the surgeon utilizes two techniques to identify the appropriate lymph node to remove. On the morning of the procedure, the radiologist injects a special tracer in the breast which helps the surgeon identify the sentinel node during surgery. A blue dye is also typically injected in the breast to highlight the sentinel node. After the lymph node is removed, the pathologist can then examine the node to determine if any cancer cells have spread. Your surgeon may recommend additional surgery to remove the remaining lymph nodes if the sentinel node shows cancer cells.

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