Overview

Sentinel node biopsy is a surgical procedure used to determine whether cancer has spread beyond a primary tumor into your lymphatic system. It's used most commonly in evaluating breast cancer and melanoma.

The sentinel nodes are the first few lymph nodes into which a tumor drains. Sentinel node biopsy involves injecting a tracer material that helps the surgeon locate the sentinel nodes during surgery. The sentinel nodes are removed and analyzed in a laboratory.

If the sentinel nodes are free of cancer, then cancer is unlikely to have spread, and removing additional lymph nodes is unnecessary.

If a sentinel lymph node biopsy reveals cancer, your doctor might recommend removing more lymph nodes.

Nov. 04, 2017
References
  1. Harlow SP. Sentinel lymph node biopsy in breast cancer: Techniques. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 15, 2017.
  2. Sentinel lymph node biopsy. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/staging/sentinel-node-biopsy-fact-sheet. Accessed Sept 15, 2017.
  3. Sentinel lymph node biopsy for early stage breast cancer. Cancer.Net. http://www.cancer.net/research-and-advocacy/asco-care-and-treatment-recommendations-patients/sentinel-lymph-node-biopsy-early-stage-breast-cancer. Accessed Sept. 15, 2017.
  4. Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Breast cancer guide. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.