Sentinel lymph node biopsy is a diagnostic tool used to guide the treatment of breast cancer, certain skin cancers such as melanoma, and other specific tumor types. At Candela and Schreier Medical Corporation in West Hills and Thousand Oaks, California, Dr. Frank Candela and Dr. David Schreier perform sentinel lymph node biopsy to refine your individualized breast cancer, or skin cancer treatment plan and give you the information needed to make the best possible decisions for your health. The team is happy to serve patients living in Agoura Hills, West Hills, Calabasas, and surrounding San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley area. Schedule an appointment today to get started or call the office today.
Your lymphatic system works to rid your body of toxins. Lymphatic fluid travels throughout your lymphatic system, draining into more than 600 lymph nodes where white blood cells fight off disease.
Your lymph fluid travels through lymphatic vessels, and the entire system is interconnected. Some of your lymph nodes and vessels are located near your breast tissue. If breast cancer infiltrates your lymph nodes it can spread to various areas of your body relatively quickly.
The lymph nodes that breast cancer would reach first are called sentinel lymph nodes. They are identified through a process called lymphoscintigraphy, which introduces a small amount of radioactive material into your breast tissue.
As your breast tissue drains into your lymphatic system, a special gamma camera gathers images of the first few lymph nodes to show signs of the radioactive material. That process identifies the sentinel nodes.
A sentinel node biopsy involves surgically removing the sentinel node or nodes to check for cellular signs of breast cancer. If the lymph nodes show few or no cancerous cells, then further lymph node surgery is likely not needed. If, however, the sentinel nodes show clear indications of cancer, then your surgeon will remove additional lymph nodes in an attempt to stop the cancer from spreading to other areas of your body.
If your sentinel node biopsy does not involve removing more than a few lymph nodes, your recovery process will be relatively simple. If your surgeon removes more than a few lymph nodes during your procedure, there is a risk of lymphedema.
Lymphedema is a buildup of fluid in your soft tissue due to a blockage in your lymphatic system. The condition can be managed, and there are steps you can take to lower your risk. Dr. Schreier or Dr. Candela will discuss the best ways to avoid lymphedema and other side effects that can occur with sentinel node biopsy.
If you have questions or concerns about sentinel lymph node biopsy or any surgical procedure used to treat breast cancer, schedule a consultation by phone or online to sit down with a specialist and discuss your specific set of treatment needs and goals. An individualized treatment plan is the best way to achieve optimal outcomes and is a foundational principle at Candela and Schreier Medical Corporation.