Breast cancer can spread to the nearby Axillary Lymph Nodes, located under the arm. At the time of a breast cancer surgery, we assess the several “sentinel lymph nodes” that would first capture spreading cancer cells going to the axillary lymph nodes. If the Sentinel Node shows no cancer during the surgery, no further surgery is needed. If the sentinel node does show cancer at the time of the surgery there may be other lymph nodes involved with cancer. We then proceed with an Axillary Node Dissection to remove all the remaining lymph nodes.
Our Sentinel Node Biopsy Rate:
A Sentinel Node Biopsy is a minimally invasive evaluation of the axillary lymph nodes that determines if one’s breast cancer has spread to this regional location.
Our practice is a leading advocate for Ultrasound Axillary Lymph Node Screening in newly diagnosed breast cancer and image guided needle biopsies of suspicious lymph nodes. This techniques is even more minimally invasive that a sentinel node biopsy. All of our early stage breast biopsy patients undergo a minimally invasive axillary lymph node evaluation by either Sentinel Node Biopsy or were found to axillary nodal disease by Ultrasound Axillary Needle biopsy.
A landmark study was published in February 2011 in the Journal of the American Medical Association that investigated whether certain patients benefit from removal of all axillary lymph nodes when the sentinel node biopsy showed the presence of cancer within the sentinel nodes. In patients with relatively small breast cancers undergoing a lumpectomy and subsequent radiation therapy to the same breast, there was no improvement in survival or recurrence of cancer in patients that had a "completion axillary node dissection" when compared to a sentinel node biopsy alone. Our practice offers this "less invasive approach" to appropriate patients who are found to have cancer in their sentinel lymph node. Such patients can avoid the risk of arm lymphedema and sensation loss in the arm pit and upper arm that can occur with a conventional axillary node dissection.
NVBS is a division of Drs. Farr, Wampler, Henson, Williams, Dougherty, Brown, Ltd.