Sentinel Node Biopsy


Sentinel lymph node biopsy involves removal of the very first lymph gland that drains tissue fluid from the primary location of a cancer.

The common conditions requiring sentinel node biopsy are breast cancer and malignant melanoma.

The techniques required to identify the sentinel lymph node in preparation for surgical removal, performed on the day of the operation, so that the procedure of sentinel lymph node biopsy can generally be performed as a day case, that is to say, without an overnight stay in hospital.

The point of sentinel node biopsy is to establish whether or not a tumour has spread to lymph glands and hence, removing a lymph node will establish whether this spread has occurred and will sometimes then direct whether or not the doctor suggests that further surgery is required or some other forms of treatment be required.

Lymph glands that can be removed in the management of malignant melanoma might involve a lymph gland in the neck or the axilla or the groin. In the case of breast cancer, the majority of sentinel node biopsy will involve removal of just a couple of lymph glands that are generally situated in the axilla.

Details of this will be discussed with the doctor at the time of consultation.