Seven lymph nodes removed

Hi everyone - ok, I’m the woman with a million questions this week…

I had a WLE & SNB for a G1 7mm tubular tumour on 21st December and after the op the surgeon came and congratulated me on having had a ‘clean’ sentinel gland. However, at my check-up appointment last Thursday informed me that they had taken seven lymph nodes out during the SNB (I assume that includes the sentinel gland). I had asked him about what the reference in the report to ‘1000 counts’, as two of them had that, and he explained that it is a good thing. Great.

What he didn’t explain was why he had to take out SEVEN lymph nodes - I’ve been looking up about treatment for tubular breast cancer and it says very clearly in a few places that normally only between one and three nodes are removed, mainly because it’s so unlikely to have spread there.

Does anyone know of any reason why this might have happened? I very worried about developing lymphadema in my arm, and feel that this might really increase the chances.


Hi Firecracker, it’s good you’re asking your questions - how else will you know?

I had a full axillary lymph clearance, so what I know is based on reading I did at the time… I am NOT medically qualified, so please check this for yourself. Some people have one sentinel lymph node, others two, three or even (I think) as many as four. They find these with the blue dye they inject. Some people don’t have any sentinel nodes, so the dye will go to all the first level of nodes. It sounds as if you might be someone in the last group, and seven nodes might be all the first level ones. The good news is they were clear.

I’m not sure about the lymphedmea risk, but it will less than if you had axillary clearance.

Hope you find some reassurance soon, and the rest of your treatment goes well.

Evening Firecracker.
I have no idea what your 1000 counts is. Perhaps you could write and ask him. As for the seven lymph nodes … That can sometimes happen . Lymph nodes are very small and the surgeon removes a pad of fatty tissue where they are found. If your sentinel node was in this axillary tissue he could perhaps have removed that and the others were hidden in the tissue. I had a bilateral mastectomy and was only expecting nodes to be taken on the cancer side, but because of the nature of the surgery three nodes were in the healthy sides tissue. You have anything from 20-30 lymph nodes in the axillary. With seven removed probably from level one your chances of getting lymphoedema is not terribly high . In comparison to somebody with 28 removed at level one two and three. I so hope you avoid it. BCC has a handout on Lymphoedema you can download.
I hope all goes well. With a tubular tumour as small as yours hopefully you will have no further problems.

Hi Firecracker

As Cackles has pointed out BCC have published a handout on lymphoedema which you can download here:

Take care

Thank you RevCat, Cackles & Lucy - your replies have really helped me, I feel informed - and reassured.
Sleep well,