Sentinel Node Biopsy

Related Video: Mastectomy Lumpectomy

Overview

Definition

A sentinel lymph node biopsy is the removal and testing of specific lymph node tissue called sentinel nodes. The sentinel nodes are the lymph nodes to which cancer would spread first.

Lymph Node Biopsy
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Possible Complications

Complications are rare. But no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have this biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications. These may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Scarring
  • Nerve damage and chronic pain
  • Allergy to dye

If the lymph nodes are removed, there is an increased risk of the following:

  • Delayed wound healing
  • Additional pain
  • Lymphedema—a condition in which fluids collect under the skin causing swelling

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Obesity
  • Recent or long-term illness
  • Smoking
  • Poor nutrition
  • Use of certain medications
  • Bleeding disorders

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Treatments

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.

RESOURCES

American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org 

National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca 

Health Canada https://www.canada.ca 

References

Dauway EL, Giuliano R, Haddad F, et al. Lymphatic mapping in breast cancer. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 1999;13(2):349-371.

Leong SP. The role of sentinel lymph nodes in malignant melanoma. Surg Clin North Am. 2000;80(6):1741-1757.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy: questions and answers. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/staging/sentinel-node-biopsy-fact-sheet. Accessed November 28, 2017.

Veronesi U, Paganelli G, Viale G, et al. Sentinel-lymph-node biopsy as a staging procedure in breast cancer: update of a randomized controlled study. Lancet Oncol. 2006(12);7:983-990.

1/22/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance  http://www.dynamed.com : Torres Lacomba M, Yuste Sánchez MJ, Zapico Goñi A, et al. Effectiveness of early physiotherapy to prevent lymphoedema after surgery for breast cancer: randomised, single blinded, clinical trial. BMJ. 2010;340:b5396.