Node left behind in axillary clearance

I’m wondering if anyone else has had experience of a node being forgotten/missed in an axillary clearance?
I had a full left axillary clearance in February. Two weeks later I raised it with my surgeon during a seroma drainage as I thought it felt like a node. She said it didn’t to her.
Six weeks later, I raised it with a different surgeon and asked him to feel it. He also felt it wasn’t a node but said it’s practically impossible to get EVERY node. I was not aware of this.
Two weeks ago, I asked my BC nurse to book me an ultrasound. She did and they confirmed it was a 1.5cm node and it has slight thickening but was rated U3 so neither obviously cancerous or not. They did two biopsies and luckily it has come back negative for cancer cells which is a miracle since I was 7/9 in the clearance.
Has anyone else experienced this at all?
I have mixed feelings. Delighted it’s not positive but annoyed that two surgeons I respect enormously didn’t realise it was a node. That scares me. I don’t want to have to be so in control. I don’t want to have to think so hard and advocate so much for myself. I want someone else to be in charge. Hopefully that makes sense. I’m also annoyed that I was never warned that it’s practically impossible to get every single node out and therefore why don’t they do a scan after to just check?
Urgh. Exhausted after 3rd cycle of EC and THIS!
One thing I will say though is that I’ve been knocked for being a pushy bulldozer my entire life. I’m discovering that being a pushy bulldozer is currently helping to save my life so don’t hold back if you have the slightest niggle about things!


I know what you mean by saying that you don’t want to be so much in control but I do think that we know our body much more than anyone else and we need to advocate for ourselves. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t trust our medical team but we shouldn’t be passive! kudos to you for following up and getting the care you need and deserve.
I’m glad that the LN was negative. I read that you started chemo, it will take care of the potential remaining cancer cells and I guess you will have radio afterwards to kill whatever survived. Good luck with the chemo

Did not know that! Good on you for pushing it! I agree that it’s important to be on top of things and at times it’s hard to even know the right questions which is why these forums are helpful. Also given that most surgeons are incredibly busy I can also understand how this is difficult for them as they don’t want to be alarmist either.

One thing I have learned is pushing for extra checks and scans. It feels like the States are way better in preventative checks and more detailed scans so asking for extra checks is a good idea.

Having a few nodes remain might help you in the long run to avoid lymphoedema. The more removed the higher the chance of getting it.
It was probably swollen as it was doing its job to deal with infection after your surgeries. They are only the size of a grain of rice so you can see how a few get missed but chemo will sort any micro invasive cancer cells remaining.

I have to admit my ignorance as to how many nodes we have in that area, or how easily accessible they are to surgeons, and as a previous reply said, regarding protection against lymphoedema, which can be very unpleasant to cope with? wish you all the best.

people vary in the number of lymph nodes they have in the armpit. so there is only a tough idea of how many I don’t know how many I had as they removed all of them at my first surgery in 2003 so couldn’t find any to sample for my second surgery in 2022 when i had a new primary breast cancer in the same left breast