FROM OUR EXPERTS
Skin cancer sometimes spreads to other areas of the body, often the lymph nodes. Your lymph nodes are located throughout your body and work to fight infection and filter out toxins from the bloodstream but sometimes cancer cells begin growing in the lymph nodes.
When skin cancer is diagnosed, your doctor may recommend testing to determine whether your lymph nodes are affected . This is done through a biopsy or diagnostic tools such as a CT scan. If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, your doctor may recommend a lymph node dissection.
During a lymph node dissection, your doctor removes the lymph nodes closest to the primary cancer site – for example, if skin cancer is detected on your arm, the lymph nodes in your armpit on the side of your body the cancer is found will be removed. Lymph nodes are not removed individually, instead an area of tissue surrounding the lymph nodes is removed. Once removed, a pathologist examines the tissue, looks for cancer cells and...
When melanoma has reached Stage III , it frequently means that cancer has spread to the lymph nodes closest to the original cancer site. In Stage IV, many of the body’s lymph nodes are affected. When skin cancer is detected, doctors examine the closest lymph nodes to determine if the cancer has spread. If so, they may need to be removed.
Depending on the spread of cancer, surgery to remove lymph nodes , lymphadenectomy, can be quite extensive and involve a hospital stay of up to 5 days and a recovery of weeks. And, the larger the incision to remove the lymph nodes, the greater the chance for infection. Removing all of the lymph nodes in the groin area, for example, can require an incision of 12 inches, going from the hip to the thigh. For some, getting back to normal activities doesn’t happen for 6 weeks or more.
Minimally Invasive Procedures
A few doctors are using a minimally invasive procedure to remove lymph nodes in the groin area. Instead of one long incisio...
There are two major North American conferences a year where advances in clinical breast cancer research are showcased. The first is the San Antonio Breast Conference, which happens each December. The second is the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which occurs each June. Some years, breakthrough research and landmark presentations are showcased, but this years’ San Antonio conference was pretty tame. Some updates on previously discussed clinical trials , some news on the two drugs for breast cancer that will likely be approved in 2007 ( avastin and lapatanib ), but no major breakthroughs. But this one item struck me as fairly interesting…. A company called Veridex has a product called GeneSearch BLN Assay that will improve the accuracy of sentinel node biopsy. Sentinel lymph node biopsy is a technique that allows localization of the sentinel, or major draining lymph node via an intraoperative technique. Click on the link for an image of a sentinel node biopsy . If the se...
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