Patient & Visitor InformationContact Us
  • Locations

    Rhode Island Hospital

    APC Building

    Providence, RI 02903

    866-401-0002

    . . . . . .

    The Miriam Hospital

    164 Summit Avenue

    Providence, RI 02906

    866-401-0002

  • Sentinel Node Biopsy

  • Lymph nodes, which are part of the body's lymphatic system, are small, round organs that trap cancer cells, bacteria and other harmful substances. The sentinel lymph node is the first site within the axilla (the cavity beneath the junction of the arm and shoulder) to receive fluid from the breast, through which cancer cells filter.

    A sentinel lymph node biopsy is performed during breast surgery, and removes only the sentinel node, since this is where cancer cells would most likely appear first. If no cancer is found, the chance of finding cancer in any of the remaining nodes is small and no other nodes need to be removed. If cancer is found, it is likely that cancer may be present in other lymph nodes as well, and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body. However, 75 percent of women who have a sentinel lymph node biopsy do not have cancer in any of the removed lymph nodes.