Breast Cancer Spread to Lymph Nodes

Axillary lymph node dissection is the surgical removal of all the axillary lymph nodes, which are located underneath the arm within the armpit.

If the cancer has spread out of the breast tissue, then the axillary lymph nodes are usually the first place it would reach.

In the past, an axillary lymph node dissection was performed routinely to ensure that the breast cancer had not spread. However, now, a sentinel lymph node biopsy is performed initially, which reduces the need in most cases for removal of the entire collection of axillary lymph nodes. This is very beneficial in reducing the chances of developing arm swelling, which is known as lymphedema.