Numbness of the skin on the upper, inner arm is a common side effect because the nerve that controls sensation here travels through the lymph node area. Lymph fluid flows through tubes called lymphatic vessels that drain into lymph nodes. It can often be used instead of an axillary lymph node removal for breast cancer node dissection for many patients with smaller tumors. This means that women who have a sentinel lymph node biopsy tend to be less likely to develop lymphedema than those who have an axillary lymph node dissection. If only 1 or 2 sentinel lymph nodes have cancer and you plan to have a lumpectomy and radiation therapy to the entire breast, an axillary lymph node dissection is not needed.
Lymph Node Surgery for Breast Cancer
Lymphedema is the abnormal buildup of fluid in soft tissue due to a blockage in the lymphatic system, causing swelling in that area of the body. The risk of lymphedema increases with the number of lymph nodes and lymph vessels that are removed or damaged during cancer treatment. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body.
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Then, the surgeon makes an incision under the arm and either follows the radioactive signal or finds the lymph nodes that are stained from the dye and removes them. Talk with your doctor about whether a sentinel lymph node biopsy is an option for you. In a sentinel lymph node biopsy, often shortened to sentinel node biopsy or SNB, 1 to 3 or more of the axillary lymph node removal for breast cancer nodes are removed. It can often be used instead of an axillary lymph node dissection for many patients with smaller tumors. During an axillary lymph node dissection, most lymph nodes under the arm are removed and examined for signs of cancer.
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