What are Lymph Nodes?
Lymph nodes filter out and trap viruses, cancer cells and other harmful substances in the body. The lymph nodes act as filters along the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system eliminates harmful substances filtered out by the lymph nodes and eliminates them from the body.
Why are Lymph Nodes Important?
Lymph nodes are important because they filter out the cancer cells and other dangerous substances. Lymph nodes are a common place to look for cancer cells that have escaped the original tumor location. The presence or absence of cancer in the lymph nodes is a deciding factor for finding the best breast cancer treatment.
What is Lymph Node Removal?
Lymph node removal is a procedure where the surgeon removes lymph nodes from under the arm to check for the presence of breast cancer cells. This will help doctors determine the stage of breast cancer and the best treatment options available. If cancer is found in the lymph nodes, it’s more likely to be found in other parts of the body as well. The surgery to remove some or all of your lymph nodes under the arm is called axillary lymph node dissection.
Another more common procedure for women with a lower risk of lymph node involvement is call sentinel lymph node dissection. This procedure only removes the first lymph node that could contain breast cancer. If cancer cells aren’t found in the first set of lymph nodes, then it’s most likely that the other lymph nodes don’t contain breast cancer cells.
What are the Risks of Lymph Node Removal?
The risks of lymph node removal are as follows:
- loss of sensation in the arm or armpit
- tingling and numbness
- limited range of mobility in arm and/or armpit
- lymphedema (swelling of the arm)
- inflammation of the arm or armpit area
- increased risk of infection
For more information on breast cancer treatment or to schedule an appointment, call Christian Hospital at 877.747.9355 or email us.