Breast Cancer

Axillary Lymph Node Dissection

What is Axillary Lymph Node Dissection? 

  • Axillary Lymph Node Dissection is performed when there is obvious involvement of cancer in the lymph nodes and all the lymph nodes in the arm pit area is removed and sent for pathology examination. It is no longer as frequently performed due to the use of sentinel lymph node biopsy. 

  • There is typically numbness, pins and needles and altered sensation associated with the inner arm, arm pit area and sometimes the sides of the chest as sensory  nerves supplying these areas have been cut during the operation. Most of the time, after a few months, the sensory changes in the above areas will improve over time. 

  • Lymphoedema can occur to some degree after an axillary dissection. This manifests as swelling in the arm and the arm becomes prone to infections once the lymph nodes have been removed. Patients will need long term management and treatment for lymphoedema. Some patients may need regular lymphatic massage, and need to wear a compression sleeve to control the lymphoedema.

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