Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
A sentinel lymph node Reference biopsy Opens New Window is a surgery that takes out Reference lymph node tissue Opens New Window to look for cancer. A sentinel node biopsy is used to see if a known cancer has spread from the original cancer site. A sentinel node biopsy may be done instead of a more extensive surgery called lymph node dissection. But if cancer is found in the sentinel lymph node at the time of surgery, more surgery may be needed to remove additional lymph nodes.
The sentinel lymph node is the first node in a group of nodes in the body where cancer cells may move to after they have left the original cancer site and started to spread. For example, the sentinel node (SN) for Reference breast cancer Opens New Window is normally one of the lymph nodes under the arm.
Your doctor injects a blue dye or special tracer substance or both into the area around the original cancer site. The dye or tracer moves to the first lymph node (sentinel node) that drains close to the cancer site. The dye or tracer makes a map pattern of lymphatic fluid. The map can show where the cancer is likely to spread and which lymph node is most likely to have cancer cells. Your doctor can see the dye or tracer with a special device. The lymph node can be taken out, cut into very thin slices, and looked at under a microscope at the time of surgery. If a sentinel node is positive for cancer cells, more surgery may be needed to remove more lymph nodes.
Other tests, such as a Reference culture Opens New Window, genetic tests, or immunological tests, may be done on the lymph node sample.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference February 27, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference C. Dale Mercer, MD, FRCSC, FACS - General Surgery