Sentinel Node Biopsy



A sentinel lymph node biopsy is to remove and test lymph nodes where cancer would spread first. Lymph nodes are pea-sized glands throughout the body. They help fight infection.

Lymph Node Biopsy
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Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Damage to nearby structures
  • Lymphedema
  • Allergy to the dye

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Recent illness or long term diseases such as diabetes or obesity
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.


American Cancer Society 

National Cancer Institute 


Canadian Cancer Society 

Health Canada 


Qiu SQ, Zhang GJ, et al. Evolution in sentinel lymph node biopsy in breast cancer. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2018;123:83-94.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy for breast cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed September 23, 2021.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy: questions and answers. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Accessed September 23, 2021.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy. Yale Medicine website. Available at: Accessed September 23, 2021.