Sentinel Node Biopsy (cont.)
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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 biopsy. 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.
Leigh A Neumayer, MD, MS, FACS
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