Lymph node removal side effects
I had some of my Sentinel Lymph Nodes (SLNs) removed as part of my melanoma surgery. As I posted earlier, I was thrilled to find out (Tuesday) that my melanoma was just "in situ" and that no cancer was found in the SLNs or in the margins.
My question is: what will the long term affect(s) be from having those LNs removed (if any)?
I have one bigger scar just in front of my left ear, and one smaller one behind it.
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@birdman518 It’s wonderful news about your melanoma being caught in time and no spreading to the lymph nodes! That has to be a huge relief for you!
The Sentinel nodes are the first lymph nodes to indicate if cancer has spread. So removing the nodes closest to the affected area and examining thoroughly for any sign of metastasizing is important. You have an all-clear so that’s the best news.
Were you told to expect any side effects? Depending where the lymph nodes were removed you can experience some swelling or tenderness. Lymph nodes are part of the lymph drainage system in the body and if they can’t drain easily the area can retain fluid which makes the area tender. I know this isn’t germane to your situation but women who have breast surgery, for instance, will have sentinel nodes removed and have swelling (lymphedema) in their arms or the chest wall. There are lymphatic drainage massages where one can learn to help with the natural removal of the fluid retention.
So if the removal site is increasingly tender/sore, reddened, hot or you have a fever, call your physician or surgeon’s office to have the area checked. Also, they would be the best source of information regarding the side effects of removal of the specific lymph nodes and suggest treatments for you. Hopefully these are in a place where you have no further issues.
You have other sentinel nodes so they’ll continue to monitor your body and your immune system just a touch less than fully functioning.
Have I answered your question? I hope you can relax now and get on with life!! (Out of the sun!) Wishing you all the best, Lori
Yes, thank you. I have not had any problems, and I had read that having all LNs removed could cause problems… so I was just wondering about my situation.
It’s great you’re not having any issues! Our lymphatic systems are so fascinating.
The body contains around 500-600 lymph nodes, so yes, if they were all removed it would cause a lot of problems. Sentinel and axillary nodes can be found in clusters. When biopsied the surgeon will remove only the nodes affected in a cluster, not necessarily all of them.
So in your case, only a couple nearest the area impacted by the melanoma would be taken, leaving the rest intact. If there are no cancer cells found in the immediate area there is little chance that the cancer spread beyond that.
Found this interesting chart about the location of lymph nodes in the body. https://www.treatnheal.com/guides/lymph-node-locations-chart-for-armpits-head-neck-groin-chest-stomach-more/