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Sentinel lymph node biopsy in early breast cancer

Posted Feb 21 2010 4:25am

Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is a minimally invasive procedure in which a lymph node near the site of a cancerous tumor is first identified as a sentinel node and then removed for microscopic analysis. Initially a blude dye was sued but now scintimammogaphic approach is msot common. SLNB was developed by researchers in several different cancer centers following the discovery that the human lymphatic system can be mapped with radioactive dyes, and that the lymph node(s) closest to a tumor serve to filter and trap cancer cells. These nodes are known as sentinel nodes because they act like sentries to warn doctors that a patient's cancer is spreading.

It is supported by several guidelines. The use of sentinel node biopsy (SNB) in breast cancer has been generallya dopted. Eight years ago, the percentage of breast cancer patients at five major cancer centers who had SNBs was 13% and 3 years later, it was 57%. It is practically universal at the present time.

ASCO Guideline Recommendations for Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy in Early-Stage Breast Cancer: Guideline Summary
J Oncol Pract 2005 1: 134-136

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