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Axillary lymph node dissection OR axillary radiation OR both??

Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2012

I had a lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) and am just finishing chemo. The SLNB found cancer in one out of four lymph nodes removed and I am now faced with the decision of whether to have a full axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) OR radiation to my axilla OR both. I understand that there has been recent research to show that radiation to the axilla may be just as good as having an axillary lymph node dissection, however, the women in that particular study were all over 50. I am 39, was diagnosed at 38. I'm wondering if any more young-ish women have been faced with the same decision and how you figured out the best course of action. Any insights would be appreciated. I'm having a really hard time with this decision. I have conflicting opinions between by medical oncologist my radiation oncologist and my surgeon. Thanks

mamolady's picture
Posts: 796
Joined: May 2011

I had 5 of 6 nodes positive. My surgeon didn't feel the need to go back and take anymore. I think they travel up the chain and once they get a clear one they stop. The idea being the cancer has to move up the chain, once one is clear the ones after are too.
I did have radiation to my axillary LN and my clavicular nodes. I think that is why my lymph edema is an issue with so few nodes removed. With more nodes out the outcome may have been the same, I don't know. I was able to get it under control to the point of only wearing a sleeve when I fly. It is giving me trouble since my recon but I hope to have it under control again by the end of the year.
I don't know anyone else that has had the limited nodes out with rads. Most of the people I know have had extra nodes out. I had my mastectomy in march 2011. It has been almost exactly 2 years since diagnosis. I was 47 at diagnosis.
I hope this helps.

Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2012

Hi Cindy,

Thanks for sharing your story. It has been really helpful to hear about other people's experiences. Take care.

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