Node clearance OR radiotherapy

Im 35 with IDC grade 3. Just seen my consultant who has given me the choice of whether to have full node clearance or radiotherapy to the armpit. I don’t know what to do! Both apparently equally as effective and I’m having chemo and radio on my breast. Anyone been in this position? What did you go for?

Dear Katie

I am sorry that you havent had a response from any of our fantastic Forum users.  Please do keep posting, someone will be along very shortly I am sure.

It may help to talk through your options with our specialist nurses on the Helpline, 0808 800 6000.

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Hi Kate, I also had grade 3 cancer with lymph nodes affected. They took some but not all of my nodes but I’m also having radiotherapy to the whole breast and all nodes.  I’ve completed my chemo and just in my first week of rads.  If you are concerned about the lymph nodes, speak to your BC nurse.  Did they find any cancer in your nodes?  Mine was in 8 hence the removal.  Hope your treatments go well.  This forum offers great support ? Xx Jo 

Hi Kate17


Have you had a sentinal node biopsy? MX or Lumpectomy? This could affect your final decision as the concensus seems to depend on how many nodes were affected when a biopsy is carried out. If no nodes are affected and ultrasound of the area looks normal and unaffected then radiotherapy is probably the way to go. I speak from experience here as only one of the two nodes removed was affected but it did mean that I had to have chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well as Hormone therapy.

If you have several nodes affected then a clearance is usually mandatory - but if you have a full node clearance then the risk of lymphodema is quite high - that said - it is also a possibility with radiotherapy but would you want to put yourself through another operation?

My Breast surgeon wanted to do a full clearance but sent me to the oncologist for ‘some statistics’ (she admitted that as a surgeon the natural inclination is to operate and remove the nodes!) but once I had seen the oncologist and been advised to have chemo as a ‘mopping up’ to catch any stray cancer cells that was when he said that both chemo and radio would do a good job on the nodes without the need for another operation. As I’m prone to acute nausea and technicolour yawns after operations I was quite happy to avoid another operation!! 

Ultimately how do you feel about leaving the nodes and having radiotherapy? Some people opt for the clearance as they feel it removes the cancer if it is in the nodes whereas I put my faith in the oncologist that the chemo would treat the whole body and the radiotherapy would increase the odds against the cancer returning in the breast (unlikely if you have had an MX anyway) As has already been pointed out to you - research over the past few years has revealed similar outcomes whichever treatment you opt for.



My surgeon has done full clearance though one of my node was affected. What can I do now? I did develop lymphedema but I’m taking chymptripsin and that seems to work for me. Any suggestions after full node clearance?

This is my dilemma!

I have grade 2 er+ her- bc! Ultrasound showed no LN involvement! I had a 3cm lump removed and SNB on 30 th March.

Results have come back clear margins but micromet on sentinel node which may or may not been transferred by biopsy or surgery!

I have opted for node clearance but not sure if I have made the right decision!

Sandra x

Hi Kate Sorry havent replied before now but went through node clearance myself I am now two weeks post op I didnt have a choice but think If I had I would have gone for the clearance. hope all went well, I have to wait now as there was tumor in one of my lymph nodes and it has been sent to America so hopefully will have results in a week or two, then will know if im to have chemo, I know I will be havin radiation and hormone therapy. At the moment I Have an infection and a small collection of fluid in the underarm which cant be drained until the infection has cleared.