What is the role of axillary lymph nodes in breast cancer treatment?

Assoc. Prof. Didem Öncel Yakar

Dr Öncel Yakar’s comments

One of the most important factors determining the staging of breast cancer and therefore the choice of treatment is whether the disease has spread to the axillary lymph nodes. In order to evaluate this, preoperative clinical examination of the patient and imaging results as well as pathological examination of the sentinel lymph node during the operation (sentinel lymph node biopsy) are critical. In case of detection of disease in the sentinel lymph node determined by certain techniques during the operation, removal of all axillary lymph nodes (axillary dissection) is the standard method. The approach to sentinel lymph node may differ in patients given preoperative (neoadjuvant) chemotherapy or those included in study protocols.

Breast health plays an important role in every woman’s life. This is based on the facts that breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and that early diagnosis and treatment significantly increase life expectancy thanks to screening methods. While stricter follow-up and examination protocols are applied in women with certain risk factors, women with no risk factors should also have breast screening regularly for these reasons. Standard breast screening guidelines recommend that women should perform breast self-examination from the age of 20, and additionally, from the age of 40, breast imaging with clinical examination and mammography once a year. In this section, especially in the twenty-fifth year of her profession and as a female surgeon, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Didem Öncel Yakar answers the questions frequently asked by you. We are with you to manage your routine annual scans and appropriate examination-surgery-treatment processes in our practice in Ataşehir.