Sentinel lymph node biopsies bring improved quality of life
Breast cancer patients on the Eastern Shore are now able to benefit from sentinel lymph node biopsies, a new capability at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital.
In January and February, surgeons Charles Goldstein, M.D. and Larry Weisner, M.D., conducted sentinel node biopsies for five breast cancer patients. A 'sentinel' lymph node is the first lymph node to which cancer cells are most likely to spread from a primary tumor. Sentinel lymph node biopsies are used to determine the extent of cancer in the body.
Marshall Cross, M.D., a Riverside surgeon based on the
"Through our affiliation with
How it works
In breast cancer cases, sentinel lymph node biopsies are conducted at the same time a mastectomy or lumpectomy is performed. A very low dose of a radioactive substance and a blue dye are injected at the site of the tumor. The lymph node that absorbs the most of the blue dye and radioactive material is the first node in the chain of nodes throughout the body, or the 'sentinel' lymph node. It is the most likely place cancer would be detected if it has spread. The identified sentinel node is removed, and a pathologist checks it for cancer.
If the sentinel node does not include cancer cells, then the cancer is not likely to have spread and removing additional nodes is unnecessary. The patient benefits from a shorter, simpler surgery with a lower chance of long-term lymphedema which is swelling around the biopsy site.
Sentinel node biopsies are complex because they require a radiologist, nuclear medicine technician, pathologist and surgeon to coordinate.
"There were a lot of hurdles to overcome logistically," Goldstein said. "That's where Riverside Health System and Dr. Cross helped immensely. This is not something that I could do myself. It's such a team effort."
Being able to offer this surgery at
"They don't have to go over an hour away. Their support system is in place. They're not in a strange environment," Goldstein said. "Here on the
"We offer a lot of services for a rural hospital – an internist, cardiologist, pulmonologist, urologist, ophthalmologist, gastroenterologist, orthopedic surgeon, two medical oncologists, a part-time ear, nose and throat surgeon. Certainly a lot of rural hospitals our size do not have those subspecialties. It's a bit unusual in how fortunate we are to be able to offer these services for a rural, community hospital," Goldstein said.
Offering sentinel lymph node biopsies at
Published: March 18, 2013