Lymph Node Dissection

At Providence, we believe in taking every precaution necessary to better the lives of our cancer patients. For those affected by breast cancer, we make sure to provide lymph node dissections in order to help assess the potential threat of cancer spreading. Our goal is to improve the quality of life of our patients through compassionate care and comprehensive treatments.

Lymph node dissection, also known as lymphadenectomy, is a method of cancer management. During a mastectomy, lymphadenectomy involves surgically removing groups of lymph nodes.

Examining the lymph nodes gives us a better idea about the possible spread of cancer throughout your body. If cancer is found in the lymph nodes it may indicate an increased risk for cancer in other parts of your body. The lymphadenectomy will help determine whether or not you will require an axillary node dissection, or removal of lymph nodes in the underarm region. erarm region.

Lymph node dissection is performed as part of a lumpectomy or mastectomy. During the procedure, a surgeon removes one or more lymph nodes from under your arm with a small incision.

A pathologist then examines them closely to see if the breast cancer has spread. If the lymph nodes are free of cancer, the remaining axillary lymph nodes are left alone.

If the lymph node(s) contain breast cancer cells, the patient will require removal of the remaining axillary lymph nodes.

If the patient is undergoing a modified or radical mastectomy, the surgeon will perform an axillary node dissection as part of the procedure.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy saves many patients from lymphedema, which can be one of the most troublesome potential side effects of undergoing a mastectomy.


Side effects for lymphadenectomy include bleeding, infection of the incision, minor pain and tenderness, stiffness of the arm or shoulder, axillary web syndrome and swelling of the underarm region. The swelling may be a cause of lymph fluid buildup. This is known as lymphedema and should be treated right away if symptoms appear.