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Removal of Lymph Nodes
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Removal of Lymph Nodes

I have had cancer and 5 lymph nodes were tested of which one was affected.  I have had surgery and cemo and am doing well. However, I would like to know what constitutes the no. of lymph nodes to be removed and tested and how many lymph nodes are under one's arm?  Would the no. of lymph nodes removed have anything to do with your immune system?

Also, I have had 3 sister with breast cancer and one had a radical and the rest have had modified.  What is the difference and when did they stop doing radicals?

Thanks!
              Berte
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Dear Berte:  There is no set number of lymph nodes in any one area of the body.  The number of lymph nodes removed is determined by the procedure performed.  A traditional axillary node dissection removes the "fat pad" from the axilla.  This could contain anywhere from 4-20+ lymph nodes.  There are additional axillary lymph nodes located deeper in the axilla that are not removed.  Removal of these lymph nodes would not have any affect on the overall immune system.  However, since it is the filtration and drainage system for the affected arm, care must be taken to avoid injury or trauma to that arm so that the risk of infection (cellulitis) or swelling (lymphedema) can be minimized.  Most major medical centers have been doing modified radical mastectomies rather than radical mastectomy for 15+ years.
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