Breast Cancer Answers
We know that cancer cells can circulate through the body. They can circulate through lymphatic channels which go to lymph nodes. We also believe that in breast cancer, certain cancer cells are potentially destined to grow within lymph nodes. This is one of the first drainage areas from the breast, typically in the axilla or armpit area, and so it's one of the things that we sample to see if the cancer has spread.
Lymph nodes in general are part of our defense mechanisms. They are sort of the local neighborhood warriors, if you will, that when you have an infection like a bad toothache, or something of that sort, your lymph nodes swell up because the lymph nodes are producing the antibodies to help fight infection etc., but in the world of cancer, whether it's breast cancer or other cancers, cancer cells are invasive and circulate. Lymph nodes are typically one of the things that we sample and we want to remove if we have cancer within the lymph nodes.
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