One positive node

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A question. I had 4 nodes out. 1 in positive.

would that have been the one closest to the primary breast tumour and then 2,3,4 are next along the line. Meaning that the first node is as far as it’s got?

or is it just random which one it goes to?

In which case how would one know - without removing them all and testing that it’s  not in nodes say 7,8,9 etc 

no one suggesting taking them all out. Just wondering what makes them so sure it hasn’t spread beyond the first node??

thanks all

  • I’m afraid I can’t help with this, but these are the type of answers I’m after too. 
    I’ve only had one node removed, and it’s cancerous, but they’re not taking anymore out. This has me so frightened, because I, like you, am wondering how they can be so sure?

    I hope you’re ok - and someone can help us both out with a more definite answer. X

  • Hi C22 and  welcome to the forum and I am sorry to hear how worried that are. As far as I know they always take the Sentinel node and if it is found to be positive they keep taking the next one and next one until they get clear lymph nodes if that makes sense? This usually means that chemo will potentially be in the plan but not 100%certain on that one. x


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  • Hello,  The first node removed is the sentinel node as that is where if the cancer had spread it would go first.  Then it does not randomly go up to the higher nodes.  Kind of like a chain of command.  That is why they put the dye in so they can see which nodes to remove first. You got good news that it had not spread beyond first node as complete axillary dissection carries risk of lymphedema and other issues so if not needed leave the nodes alone.  The lymphatic system is so important for clearing our bodies from toxins etc.  

    Hope this helps.  Hugs to you.


  • They could be planning radiation to the nodes.  Just ask as sometimes they think we know the answer and we don’t.  No question is off limits.  


  • Yes definitely radiation and definitely hormone therapy. Chemo will depend on the oncotype score I believe 

  • Hey ruby

    so what therapy do you think you will have? What sort of BC do you have?

    I'm ILC Er+ Her -……. Having read a bit I’m not sure that ILC responds great to chemo, I think Hormone treatment is a definite though . I think if my oncotype comes back high they will Chuck chemo at me too 

  • Invasive ductual carcinoma. I had two tumours - 16mm & 26mm - they originally said hormone therapy, as were hopeful it was still contained in breast, but sentinel node shows cancer cells.

    However, they’ve said they’re not taking out any more as the cancer cells haven’t ‘breached’ the sentinel node. But now saying chemo and hormone therapy highly likely. 

    Really worried as my understanding was they kept taking them out until they got a clear one too. Trying to reassure myself they know what they’re on about but my mind is going crazy. Back in that awful ‘unknown,’ like how I felt after biopsys. 

    When will you find out more about your treatment plan?

  • Hi Barbara,

    Hope you’re ok. I asked about radiation but they said it’s more likely to be chemo!?

  • My understanding is that it travels through nodes in sequence, so the first node was positive, the next 3 were clear, so no need to remove the rest. They try and remove as few as possible because of the lymphoedema risk. I’m not medical but that’s my understanding, hope that helps. Good luck with the rest of your treatment x

  • Hi there

    im seeing surgeon again this week and re excision this week. Then waiting on oncotype before knowing for sure whats next. Which I imagine will be another couple of weeks? 

    and yes I’m right back at waiting for the biopsy results place. 

    im now just trying to get my head around chemo really. As I already knew I was going to have radiotherapy and hormone therapy.

    that’s very interesting about it showing , or not, signs of breaking out of the sentinel node . Makes sense. Hadn’t heard that before

    you know the radioactive dye they put in before the snb ….. I assumed this was to find the sentinel nodes not the actual cancer. Is that right ? Or does it trace the cancer bits specifically? Might explain why they take the nodes they do I suppose?