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...
When you had your surgery, your doctor may have removed some of the lymph nodes under the arm next to the breast that developed cancer. But breast cancer can come back in:
some of the remaining underarm (axillary) lymph nodes
lymph nodes at the base of the neck (supraclavicular)
lymph nodes just bellow the collarbone (infraclavicular)
lymph nodes under the chest wall, along the breastbone (internal mammary)
lymph nodes under the armpit on your other side (rarely)
In about 40% of women who develop a recurrence, the breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes . If you or your doctor notices hard, round lumps forming in any of these areas near the breast that had cancer, it could be a regional recurrence. Sometimes such enlarged lymph nodes are found in a routine mammogram.
It is uncommon to have a regional recurrence in only the lymph nodes under the arm. Fewer than 5% of women treated for breast cancer have recurrence that happens this way. Instead, the cancer generally comes back in...
There are three levels of axillary lymph nodes (the nodes in the underarm or "axilla" area):
Level I is the bottom level, below the lower edge of the pectoralis minor muscle.
Level II is lying underneath the pectoralis minor muscle.
Level III is above the pectoralis minor muscle.
A traditional axillary lymph node dissection usually removes nodes in levels I and II. For women with invasive breast cancer, this procedure accompanies a mastectomy. It may be done at the same time as, or after, a lumpectomy (through a separate incision).
Based on the doctor's physical exam and other indicators about the likelihood that cancer has spread to your lymph nodes, the surgeon will generally remove between five and thirty nodes during a traditional axillary dissection. The total number of lymph nodes "involved" (showing evidence of cancer) is more important than the extent of cancer in any one node.
Your doctor will let you know if any lymph nodes were involved (and if so, how many), as well ...
You should knowAnswers to your question are meant to provide general health information but should not replace medical advice you receive from a doctor. No answers should be viewed as a diagnosis or recommended treatment for a condition. Content posted by community members does not necessarily reflect the views of Remedy Health Media, which also reserves the right to remove material deemed inappropriate.