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SLN Biopsy: Conventions

How Many Nodes?
The number of nodes that should be removed in a sentinel node dissection is controversial, but research by Wong, et al. on 1,436 patients, involving 148 surgeons from around the United States indicate that when a single sentinel node is removed the false-negative rate is 14.3% and when multiple nodes are removed the false-negative rate drops to 4.3%.(1) Regardless of dye staining, gamma radioactivity, or any other procedure, a clinically suspicious node should be removed and examined.
Learn more about false-negative test results.

Value of SLN Biopsy
Sentinel node biopsy is used to detect metastasis. It is generally very effective and is less invasive than an older method known as axillary node dissection. Axillary node dissection involves the removal of larger numbers of lymph nodes than SLN biopsy and is associated with more lymphatic and neurologic side effects (lymphedema and numbness, respectively).(2) Studies show that sentinel node biopsy can correctly identify the sentinel node 90% of the time, with a false negative rate of 7.5% and an accuracy of 97%.(3)
Learn more about lymphedema.

References for this page:
  1. SL Wong, MJ Edwards, C Chao, et al. Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Breast Cancer: Impact of the Number of Sentinel Nodes Removed on the False-Negative Rate. American College of Surgeons. 2001; 192: 684-691. [PUBMED]
  2. KK Swenson, MJ Nissen, C Ceronsky, et al. Comparison of side effects between sentinel lymph node and axillary lymph node dissection for breast cancer. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2002; 9(8): 745-753. [PUBMED]
  3. MC Kelley, N Hanson, KM McMasters. Lymphatic mapping and sentinel lymphandectomy for breast cancer. The American Journal of Surgery. 2004; 188: 49-61. [PUBMED]
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