Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.
- What is a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
- What is the lymphatic drainage?
- Why do a biopsy of the sentinel node?
- How does a tumor spread?
- How is it determined which is the sentinel node?
- What types of specialists perform a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
- What happens during a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
- What does the sentinel lymph node biopsy show?
- What are the benefits of a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
- What are the side effects and complications of a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
- Is the use of the sentinel lymph node biopsy common?
- What is the recovery time after a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
What is a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
The sentinel lymph nodes are the first few lymph nodes ("lymph gland") to receive lymphatic drainage from a tumor, meaning that sentinel lymph nodes are the first lymph nodes to which cancer cells would spread. It stands sentinel over the tumor, so to speak. The biopsy is performed to determine if there are tumor cells in the node. If the sentinel lymph node does not contain tumor cells (a negative result), then the cancer has not likely spread to lymph nodes or other organs via the lymphatic system.
What is the lymphatic drainage?
Lymphatic system refers to a collection of vessels that, like the system of blood vessels, circulates fluid through the tissues. The lymphatic drainage refers to the manner in which tissue fluid, or lymph, is drained from the body and returns to a central location -- in this case, a lymph node. The lymphatic fluid has a milky appearance.
Why do a biopsy of the sentinel node?
Examination of the sentinel node ("gland") is performed to learn whether that node does or does not have tumor cells within it. The biopsy is performed to verify if there are tumor cells present. This procedure helps the surgeon accurately stage the tumor. Staging a tumor refers to determining the extent to which it has spread in the body.
Next: How does a tumor spread?
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