The sentinel lymph node biopsy is a safe, accurate operation for the initial staging of breast cancer. Over the last decade, there has been increasing literature supporting its use, and it is now considered a standard of care for the initial evaluation of metastatic spread to the axillary lymph node chain. The status of the axillary lymph nodes is one of the strongest prognostic factors in women with early stage breast cancer, and the sentinel lymph node biopsy SLNB has become the standard of care in the assessment of metastatic spread to the lymph node basin. Historically, the concept of a mapping lymphatic drainage began in the s. Much in the way of studying the immune response in a sentinel lymph node closest to the cancer has led to the findings that breast cancers and melanomas have the ability to down regulate a host's immune response in the lymph node.
Sentinel lymph node dissection is an alternative to traditional axillary lymph node dissection , and many women believe that it can spare them more invasive surgery and side effects. However, the sentinel node procedure is not appropriate for everyone. Research shows that even after the sentinel node procedure, more surgery may be necessary. It has its own limitations and drawbacks, and must be done by a surgeon who has significant experience with the technique. The dictionary defines "sentinel" as a guard, watchdog, or protector. Likewise, the sentinel lymph node is the first node "standing guard" for your breast.
Sentinel node biopsy identifies the first few lymph nodes into which a tumor drains. The surgeon uses a harmless dye and a weak radioactive solution to locate the sentinel nodes. The nodes are removed and tested for signs of cancer. 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.
Sentinel lymph node mapping and biopsy is the best way to find out if breast cancer cells have escaped the original tumor and spread to nearby lymph nodes in the armpit. Sentinel lymph node mapping and biopsy is usually performed as part of breast cancer surgery. Although most women with a small breast tumor do not have cancer cells that have metastasized spread to lymph nodes, identifying which women do have armpit axillary lymph node involvement is important because it helps the medical and radiation oncologists plan additional treatment. Since specific lymph nodes handle drainage from the breast, this node s is the most likely place tumor cells will metastasize if some cells have left the original tumor by the time of surgery. The advantage of sentinel lymph node mapping and biopsy is that it is a less invasive way to obtain information about possible breast cancer spread.