Micrometastasis in the armpit - what to do about it?

Hi. I’ve got a small, low grade breast tumour and the sentinel node biopsy found a trace of cancer in one lymph node. They’ve said I could have an axilla clearance, RT or just observe it. I’m concerned about the aftermath of clearance surgery, particularly lymphoedema, but I don’t want to risk my survival chances - I’ve no idea how risky observation is in these circumstances. I’d love to hear any opinions, information or experiences on this topic. Cheers, Indi.

What a difficult decision Indababa, I think you need more info to help you decide. Maybe talk to the bcc helpline, and perhaps ask your onc, or someone on the radiotherapy side, what the pros & cons of each option are.

My own experience with original dx was that my tumour was treated with rads & chemo but no surgery as the tumour totally disappeared. 6 yrs later when the bc came back in the same breast I had a mastectomy but was advised against removal of lymph nodes as I had already had rads and the risk of lympho would be high.



I have recently had the same dilemma having my original biopsy showing ‘suspicious’ nodes. I wasn’t happy to have full clearance on a ‘suspicion’ and so I asked a few questions.

Another lovely Poster (mezzomamma) sent me an article about the latest research from America, where it’s starting to be believed that taking the nodes aren’t necessary. When I saw my surgeon I mentioned this but because it’s not ‘accepted practice’ she was a little apprehensive.

I had chemo before my op and in that time (the week of my next appt with her) my consultant had been to a conference where a speaker and recommended an SNB post chemo (I’d only had biopsy at original appt). And then, based on what they found, decide from there. If none OR signs that it had spread but chemo had finished it off it would be left alone - if still alive and kicking then all taken out. I agreed to this as it would provide a more def picture. Unfortunately it was still in the 4 nodes they took so I had a full clearance. Bum.

I also found out that rads carry the same lymphoedema risk as a clearance.

It’s a real quandary for you (same as it was for me). My problem and reluctance was the uncertainty of the original results but once the SNB came thru’ it was a done deal for me, yours, I guess, is them leaving the decision to you.

You’re doing the right thing on asking questions and researching your decision. You need to be happy and confident in the choice you make and feel that you covered all areas as it really is a huge choice all of which have possible repercussions.

Hope it helps a bit.