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Sentinel Node Biopsy (cont.)

After the Sentinel Node Biopsy Procedure

Patients who undergo a sentinel lymph node biopsy are taken to the recovery room following the procedure. Most are released from the hospital the same day. The radioactive tracer safely dissipates, mostly in the urine, within 24-48 hours.

The incision usually heals within a few weeks. Regular activities can be performed within a few days.

Next Steps after Sentinel Node Biopsy

If the sentinel lymph node was not examined during surgery, the pathologist tests it for cancer cells soon afterward. The doctor addresses the findings of the examination during a follow-up visit.

If the pathologist finds cancer cells in the sentinel lymph node, the patient usually undergoes a follow-up surgery to undergo an axillary lymph node dissection. This involves removing and testing the remaining lymph nodes in the area of the original biopsy for cancer cells. Depending on the findings and the choice of primary breast surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy), women who undergo surgery to stage breast cancer or to remove breast tumors may also be treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/12/2016
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