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Can axillary lymph node disection show stage IV breast cancer
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Can axillary lymph node disection show stage IV breast cancer

My mother was recently diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in her right breast (2cm).  She opted to have a bilateral mastectomy last week and during surgery they tested 2 sentinal nodes, one positive, one negative, and therefore removed a large portion of her lymph nodes for further testing.  The MRI did not show signs of cancer in her left breast, and she did not have lymph nodes in her left side, so no testing could be done.  We are awaiting the pathology report for staging and are worried this could be stage IV, would the surgeon have seen signs of spread outside of the lymph nodes during testing for and surgery?  If not, will a pathology report on lymph nodes be albe to show if cancer has spread beyond this area?  If not, what would be the best test to rule out stage IV?
Thank you
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Lymph node dissection will only show if there is cancer in the lymph nodes.  The only way to know if there is spread to other organs beyond the breast (Stage IV) is through further testing, i.e. PET Scan, MRI, CT Scan, bone scan.  The kind of test will be determined by your mom's doctor, depending on all the clinical data he/she will have from the pathology report.  The presence of cancer in the lymph nodes does not necessarily mean that the cancer has spread to other organs.  There are many women on this forum who have had positive lymph nodes, but no spread to other organs.  Stay positive and strong for your mom.  She is lucky to have such a caring child.  I hope things work out well for her.
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