lymph node tissue is usually treated with special dyes (stains) that color the
cells so problems can be clearly seen.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy
The dye or tracer flows evenly to the
sentinel lymph node.
The lymph node has normal numbers of lymph
The structure of the lymph node and the
cells look normal.
No cancer is present.
The dye or tracer does not flow evenly to
the sentinel lymph node.
The sentinel lymph node cannot be
Cancer cells may be seen. Cancer cells may
start in the lymph nodes, such as in
Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cancer cells may have spread, or
metastasized, from other sites, such as in
breast cancer or
What Affects the Test
It may not be possible to have a
clear result from the small sample taken during a sentinel lymph node biopsy.
Surgery to remove more lymph nodes (axillary dissection) may be
What To Think About
In a sentinel lymph node biopsy, less tissue is
taken out but more sections of tissue are looked at than by a standard lymph
node dissection. But if cancer is found, additional surgery may be needed to
look at more lymph nodes.
Swelling in the area around the
biopsy site is less common with sentinel lymph node biopsy than with a lymph
The dye may cause your skin to be blue for several
days after the biopsy. It may also cause your urine to turn green for 1 to 2
It is possible to have
false-negative results from the small sample taken
during a sentinel lymph node biopsy.
Other Works Consulted
American Cancer Society (2010). Breast Cancer: Treating Breast Cancer. Available online: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/DetailedGuide/breast-cancer-treating-general-info.
Cody HS (2010). Axillary dissection. In JR Harris et al., eds., Diseases of the Breast, 4th ed., pp. 562–569. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
National Cancer Institute (2011). Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy. Available online: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/detection/sentinel-node-biopsy.
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.