Biopsy - lymph nodes; Open lymph node biopsy; Fine needle aspiration biopsy; Sentinel lymph node biopsy
A lymph node biopsy is the removal of lymph node tissue for examination under a microscope.
The lymph nodes are small glands that make white blood cells (lymphocytes), which fight infection. Lymph nodes may trap the germs that are causing an infection. Cancer can spread to lymph nodes.
A lymph node biopsy is done in an operating room in a hospital, or at an outpatient surgical facility. The biopsy may be done in different ways.
A needle biopsy involves inserting a needle into a lymph node.
An open biopsy is surgery to remove all or part of the lymph node.
For some cancers, a special way of finding the best lymph node to biopsy is used. This is called sentinal lymph node biopsy, and it involves:
The sample is then sent to the laboratory for examination.
Tell your health care provider:
Your doctor may ask you to:
You must sign a consent form.
When the local anesthetic is injected, you will feel a prick and a mild stinging. The biopsy site will be sore for a few days after the test.
After an open biopsy, the pain is mild and you can easily control it with an over-the-counter pain medication. You may also notice some bruising or fluid leaking for a few days. The wound should heal in 10 - 14 days. During this time, avoid any type of intense exercise or heavy lifting.
The test is used to diagnose cancer or an infection:
The results of the biopsy help your doctor decide on further tests and treatments.
If a lymph node biopsy does not show any signs of cancer, it is more likely that other lymph nodes nearby are also cancer-free. This information can help the health care provider decide about further tests and treatments.
Carlson RW, Allred DC, Anderson BO, Burstein HJ, Carter WB, Edge SB, et al. Breast cancer. Clinical practice guidelines in oncology. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2009;7:122-192.
Clinical practice guideline for melanoma: NCCN Medical Practice Guidelines and Oncology; V.2.2010. Available online.
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