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Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (cont.)

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What does the sentinel lymph node biopsy show?

Biopsy of the sentinel lymph node can reveal whether there are or are not lymphatic metastases, which are tumor cells that have journeyed from the original primary tumor into the lymphatic drainage system. The sentinel node can be rapidly evaluated while the patient is still in surgery utilizing the technique of frozen section analysis. The final report on the sentinel node awaits the final analysis by the pathologist on what is called formalin fixed tissue.

If the sentinel node contains tumor cells, removal of more nodes in the area may be warranted. This may be done during the same procedure if the first sample is evaluated while the patient is still in the operating room. If the sentinel node is normal, it is unnecessary to perform an extensive dissection of the regional lymph-node basin.

What are the benefits of a sentinel lymph node biopsy?

The sentinel node biopsy allows the examination of one lymph node to first determine if a tumor has spread to the lymph nodes at all. If the sentinel node is negative for tumor cells, it is not necessary to surgically remove additional lymph nodes. The procedure helps certain patients avoid more extensive surgical procedures involving the removal of multiple lymph nodes, such as axillary lymph node dissection in patients with breast cancer.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/29/2016


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