Biopsy - lymph nodes; Open lymph node biopsy; Fine needle aspiration biopsy; Sentinel lymph node biopsy
Carlson RW, Allred DC, Anderson BO, Burstein HJ, Carter WB, Edge SB, et al. Breast cancer. Clinical practice guidelines in oncology. J Natl Compr Canc Netw . 2009;7:122-192.
Clinical practice guideline for melanoma: NCCN Medical Practice Guidelines and Oncology; V.2.2010. Available online.
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...
How long surgery takes
Surgery takes about an hour. The process of being admitted and prepared for surgery will vary from place to place. The amount of time you spend in the recovery room, waking up and getting to the point that you're ready to go home, will vary from woman to woman.
Most surgeons make a two–to–three–inch incision in the skin crease under your arm.
General anesthesia is used. Most commonly, the lower two levels of the three levels of axillary nodes will be removed. Occasionally, a surgeon will take one or two nodes from the top level, as an extra precaution. If you have a modified radical mastectomy, the lymph node dissection usually occurs in the same operation. If you have a lumpectomy, the lymph node dissection may occur at the same time or in a later operation. Once the surgeon removes the nodes, a pathologist will examine them carefully for signs of cancer. It may take days before the pathology report is available.
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