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Sentinel Node Examination

The armpit sentinel node and the armpit prevalence study are always part of breast cancer surgery as a sentinel node examination establishes the axillary status. Whenever possible, we aim to spare the lymph nodes in the armpit during breast cancer surgery.

Sentinel node examination is part of modern breast cancer treatment, as it helps determine the actual prevalence of cancer in the body. The advanced sentinel node biopsy method provides important information for treatment planning.

What is a sentinel node?

A sentinel node is the first lymph node that cancer usually encounters on its way from the tumour area to the lymph fluid accumulation area. In breast cancer patients, this is usually located in the armpit.

Sentinel lymph nodes in breast cancer

The sentinel lymph node in the armpit has long been an important part of diagnosing breast cancer, determining its prevalence and its treatment. Lymph fluid drains from the breast tumour area to the armpit. The first lymph nodes in the lymph duct routes stop and “eat” cancer cells, and these lymph nodes are called sentinel nodes.

Sentinel node examination

Sentinel node research provides important information about the prevalence of cancer. The sentinel nodes are marked by the so-called isotope mapping i.e. injecting technetium isotope into the breast tissues before the operation. The isotope is then detected during the operation using a gamma detector.

A blue dye can also be used to mark the sentinel node to make it easier for the surgeon to locate the lymph nodes during surgery.

Isotope preparation
Sentinel node exam

Preparation of isotope Technetium for sentinel node procedure

Sentinel lymph node biopsy

Based on the sentinel node biopsy, the prevalence classification of cancer and which combination of treatments is chosen for the patient can be determined, i.e., whether surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy are required for treatment.

Previously, a frozen section analysis of the sentinel nodes was done during surgery. Nowadays, the removed sentinel nodes are carefully examined by a pathologist after the surgery. If in the examination it is found that the disease is more extensive than expected, a new operation is required to remove the axillary lymph nodes. The need for a second surgery is very rare.

Removal of the sentinel node (armpit evacuation)

If the sentinel nodes are healthy, the armpit is also healthy and an axillary lymph node dissection is not needed. If there are metastases in the sentinel nodes, lymph nodes in a specific area (Level I and Level II) are removed from the armpit. By adding radiation therapy to this removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit, the armpit is usually able to heal.

Recent studies have shown that in single, small sentinel node metastases, radiotherapy alone is sufficient for follow-up treatment, and extensive removal of the armpit lymph nodes, i.e. evacuation, is not required.

Quick Examinations and Treatment

If you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer or if, on the basis of your symptoms, you suspect it, you can access Helena Puonti’s consultation quickly and without a referral.

Why choose Clinic Helena:

  • World-class expertise in breast cancer treatment, using the most modern methods.
  • Helena Puonti’s unique Sensing Breast-method – available only at Clinic Helena.
  • We devote ourselves to helping You recover completeley from your illness.

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