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Sentinel Node Biopsy - Definition of Sentinel Node Biopsy - Diagnosis, Staging

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Updated May 07, 2009

Sentinel Node Biopsy

Sentinel Node Biopsy

Illustration ©A.D.A.M.
Definition: Sentinel node biopsy is a surgical diagnostic procedure done to remove (biopsy) a small sample of lymph nodes to which the cancer may be draining. Those sentinel nodes will be examined to determine if cancer cells have metastasized (spread) beyond the original tumor.
Pronunciation: SIN-ti-nul node BY-op-see
Also Known As: sentinel lymph node biopsy
Common Misspellings: sintinel node, single node
Examples:
Sentinel node biopsy is a more modern procedure than axillary lymph node dissection. Sentinel node biopsy requires just a small, specific group of lymph nodes to be removed and tested for cancer. If all the nodes are clear of cancer (negative), then an axillary lymph node dissection is not needed. If any of the nodes do contain cancer (positive) then you'll need an axillary lymph node dissection, in order to get a complete diagnosis and staging.

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