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What are the sentinel lymph nodes and what is its role in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer? In medical terms, the sentinel lymph node can be defined as the first lymph node (the lymph nodes are the most important part of the immune system) with which tumor cells will be encounter addressing when attempting to spread through the lymph. Its importance lies in the fact that, if when performing the test of sentinel node, not detected the presence of tumor cells can be ruled out that have been extended to the lymph nodes in the armpits.

sentinel lymph node

Sentinel lymph node in breast cancer

The sentinel node technique is a diagnostic method to identify the axillary node over which drains the breast. If this ganglion is affected, a study of the remaining nodes of the armpit will be necessary. If these are not affected (GC negative without tumor cell invasion) will not have to apply the lymphadenectomy.

The role of the sentinel lymph node, and of which there may be more than one, in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer can go much further, as experts have found, and indeed new and interesting avenues of investigation have opened up. The response of the sentinel lymph node is especially important to know the stage in which the tumor of breast and melanoma (skin tumor).

According to the US National Cancer Institute, the sentinel is much more than a ganglion, as being which is located closer to the tumor is the first to warn that something is not going well. If the lymph nodes detect any foreign substance in the body, its cells are activated and provoke a reaction of the immune system.

The response issued by the sentinel has sponsored interesting advances and novel techniques to improve the treatment of the disease, especially in its early stages. For example, decrypt the response of the sentinel node allows you to avoid draining the lymphatic region of the armpit, a more aggressive technique that can lead to problems with mobility and pain in the arm.

Sentinel lymph node in melanoma

The sentinel lymph node reveals whether there has been dissemination of the detected melanoma. It is fundamental to determine the stage in which the tumor is and to predict what will be its development, being able to anticipate when establishing the type of treatment. The sentinel lymph node in the melanoma allows determining if there is presence of cells in the lymph nodes closest to the skin tumor. The sentinel node, as we have seen previously, to be the first in the chain of nodes on which drains the primary tumor alert you if cells have been disseminated.