Sentinel lymph node excision, or biopsy, is a procedure generally conducted in combination with a skin cancer removal
. The procedure helps determine if the skin cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The sentinel lymph node is the first node that fluid drains to from the cancerous area. If the first lymph node has any cancer cells, then it is a sign that others may also be affected and that the cancer has spread.
How a Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy is Performed
To find the sentinel lymph node a small amount of radioactive substance and dye is injected into the cancerous area. This usually happens a few hours before the schedule skin cancer removal surgery to allow the substance time to travel to the nodes. When the time comes, a radioactivity detector is used to find the lymph nodes the cancer would most likely have spread to. The surgeon determines which node would be the sentinel node, takes a biopsy of the node, and then sends it to pathology for testing. If cancer cells are found in the sentinel lymph node, then a lymph node dissection will most likely be recommended. If no cancer cells are found in the excised node then the cancer likely has not spread.
Learn More About Sentinel Lymph Node Excision
For more information about sentinel lymph node excision, or to see one of our specialists, please call 918-502-7175.