By Mayo Clinic News Network

Most patients whose breast cancer has spread to their lymph nodes have most of the lymph nodes in their armpit area removed after chemotherapy to determine if any cancer remains.

But a study conducted through the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group and led by Mayo Clinic breast surgeon, Judy Boughey, M.D., shows that a less invasive procedure known as sentinel lymph node surgery successfully identified whether cancer remained in lymph nodes in 91 percent of patients with node-positive breast cancer who received chemotherapy before their surgery.

Dr. Boughey says, “Since treatment with chemotherapy before surgery can eliminate cancer in the lymph nodes in some patients, we were interested in evaluating whether sentinel lymph node surgery could successfully identify whether cancer remained in the lymph nodes after chemotherapy. Removing only a few lymph nodes reduces the risk of surgical complications such as numbness and arm swelling.”

Source: http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/less-invasive-surgery-detects-residual-breast-cancer-in-lymph-nodes-after-chemotherapy