Breast Surgery

Breast cancer surgery is always accompanied by an examination of one or more of the lymph nodes in the armpit, sometimes referred to as the axilla. If cancer spreads from the breast, it travels to these “sentinel” lymph nodes first, and we can remove these affected nodes.

Knowing if the cancer has spread also helps us to stage it (find out how much cancer there is in the body and where it is located), advise on further treatment and determine your prognosis.

In the past, all women found with a breast tumour had an axillary clearance, where all the lymph nodes in the armpit were removed. But this extensive removal can be associated with more post-operative complications, such as pain, swelling and nerve damage, without any added benefit to the woman. A newer technique – sentinel node biopsy - is now used in a large number of women. This procedure reduces the possible side effects, while still providing the information needed for treatment planning.

Click here to read more on the Auckland Breast Centre website