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What is a sentinel node biopsy for breast cancer?

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This method helps ensure that only the lymph nodes most likely to have cancer are removed. It pinpoints the first lymph node a tumor drains into (called the sentinel node). To locate it, a radioactive tracer, a blue dye, or both, are injected into the area around the tumor. The tracer travels the same path that the cancer cells would take, making it possible for the surgeon to determine the one or two nodes most likely to have cancer.

Cells or tissues that are removed are examined by a pathologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing suspicious tissue changes.

SOURCES: The Mayo Clinic. The American Cancer Society.

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on August 29, 2020

SOURCES: The Mayo Clinic. The American Cancer Society.

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on August 29, 2020

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How do I care for myself after a breast biopsy?

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