NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Stages I and II Breast Cancer, Version 1.2014
Surgery/reconstructionon Surgeries of lymph nodes
Surgeries of lymph nodes
Removing lymph nodes
Most women with stage I or II breast cancer will have
some axillary lymph nodes removed. The removed
nodes are tested to see if they have cancer cells.
Lymph nodes are removed by one or both of these
Sentinel lymph node dissection
If the cancer has spread through lymph, it is likely to
be found in your sentinel node(s). A sentinel node
is the first lymph node to which lymph travels after
leaving the breast. Sometimes, there is more than
one sentinel node.
A sentinel lymph node dissection is also called a
sentinel lymph node biopsy. For this dissection,
radioactive or colored dye is injected into your breast.
The dye follows the path the lymph takes when it
leaves your breast. This allows your surgeon to
find the sentinel node(s). After the dye marks your
sentinel node(s), your surgeon will remove them and
sometimes other nearby nodes as well. These nodes
will then be sent to a pathologist for testing.
Axillary lymph node dissection
An axillary lymph node dissection removes more
lymph nodes than a sentinel lymph node dissection.
At least 10 lymph nodes are removed from Level I
and II areas. Level I lymph nodes lie below the armpit.
Level II nodes are in the armpit. If cancer is found
in Level II lymph nodes, nodes from Level III will be
removed. Level III nodes are below the collarbone.