FROM OUR EXPERTS
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.
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...
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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