A sentinel node procedure is performed when specialists suspect cancer may have spread to a patients’ lymph nodes.

This involves a;

  • Sentinel Node Study
  • Sentinel Node Biopsy – During the procedure, a surgeon will study the sentinel node or nodes –or first few nodes – that filter fluid away from the breast. If there are cancer cells in the lymphatic system, the sentinel node is the most likely to contain them. If the sentinel node is clear of cancerous cells, there’s a good chance the other nodes are free of cancer too.

How does the procedure work?

Sentinel Node Study

Firstly you will have an injection of a radioactive marker into the breast to locate the position of the sentinel lymph node. This is the first node in the armpit that filters away fluid from the breast. A special camera then takes pictures and the position of this node is marked. This study happens the morning of or the evening before your surgery.

Sentinel Node Biopsy

When you are asleep for surgery our surgeon will inject a blue dye and use a radioactive detecting device to pinpoint the sentinel node – and reveal other lymph nodes coloured with the blue dye. Our surgeon will make a small incision in the armpit and remove the node/nodes. It is then sent for assessment while the surgeon completes the rest of your surgery.

What happens if cancer is discovered in my sentinel node?

If your sentinel node reveals the presence of cancerous cells, our surgeon may remove additional lymph nodes – sometimes then and there, or during a follow-up procedure.