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Sentinel Lymph Node Breast Biopsy


A sentinel lymph node (SLN) breast biopsy is a procedure to check for and remove lymph nodes that may contain cancer. Sentinel lymph nodes are the first lymph nodes that breast cancer is likely to spread to. Sentinel lymph nodes for the breast are those closest to the tumor. They are usually found in the armpit, or along the sternum or collarbone. Caregivers will remove lymph nodes that appear to contain cancer cells and those close by. The samples are sent to a lab and tested for cancer.



  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or surgeon as directed:

You may need to return to have your stitches removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Wound care:

Carefully wash your wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty. Ask for more information about wound care.

Contact your primary healthcare provider or surgeon if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • You have nausea or vomiting.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have clear or bloody discharge coming from your incision.
  • You have pus or a foul-smelling odor coming from your incision.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your arm feels numb, swells, or is painful.
  • You feel something is bulging out from your incision.
  • You have chest pain that becomes worse even after you take pain medicines.
  • You have trouble moving your arm.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.