Fast Five Quiz: Breast Cancer Presentation and Diagnosis

Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH


June 07, 2022

A sentinel node biopsy has become the standard of care for breast cancer staging and prognosis; it determines whether the cancer has spread into the lymphatic system or beyond the site of the primary tumor. With the use of methylene blue dye or a radioactive sulfur colloid, the lymph node closest to the tumor can be identified. If cancer is not detected in the sentinel nodes, it is unlikely to have metastasized.

Women diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ are often offered the option to choose between treatments: breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology a sentinel node biopsy may be performed in women with ductal carcinoma in situ choosing to undergo mastectomy. Those choosing to undergo breast-conserving surgery should not have a biopsy. Sentinel node biopsy is also recommended for women with operable breast cancer, multicentric tumors, or a history of previous breast and/or axillary surgery, and those who received preoperative systemic therapy. However, it has not been accepted as a routine procedure for pregnant women.

Learn more about evaluating lymph node involvement in breast cancer.

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