FROM OUR EXPERTS
When you hear the words “You have cancer,” your life changes – instantly. All of a sudden, you’ve crossed a line: the “cancer divide.” You’ve joined the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are battling this wretched disease. Some of us live; some of us die. And all of us are marked by the experience for life. Cancer comes with a centuries-old, ugly reputation. For hundreds of years, the chief weapon against solid-tumor cancers has been the knife.
Isolate the tumor; cut it out. Find out where it’s spread; do some more cutting. Surgically obliterate all traces of cancer, and only then move on to adjuvant therapy: chemo, radiation, drugs. Surgery as the first bastion of defense for a particular group of cancer patients took a huge hit this week, however, when the Journal of the American Medical Association reported results of a study involving breast cancer survivors. It appears that surgically removing all traces of cancer might not ...
The lymph nodes reveal information about outlook and they help doctors determine the best types of treatment against the cancer. Your lymph nodes act as filters for your body's lymphatic drainage system. That's why the lymph nodes are likely to "catch" or filter out cancer cells that might be floating in the fluid that drains away from the cancerous area of the breast.
The surgeon will inject a blue dye and a radioactive substance (called a tracer) into the tumor or the skin over the tumor. The first lymph nodes that turn blue and pick up the tracer are called the sentinel (meaning "first") lymph nodes. The lymph node or nodes are then removed and sent to the pathologist, who looks to see if they contain any cancer cells. If no cancer cells are found, then no additional lymph node surgery is done.
If cancer cells are found in the nodes, then more underarm lymph nodes usually need to be removed. This is called an axillary (the armpit area) lymph node dissection (removal). There are thr...
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...
You should know
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