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Topic: Unexpectedly took nodes other side in bilateral mastectomy

Forum: Surgery - Before, During, and After — Surgical options and helpful tips for recovery and side effects.

Posted on: Jul 2, 2020 09:56AM

KARW41 wrote:

Hello, my brain still isn’t quite right from anesthesia and hope I’m putting this in the right place. I’m waiting on the doctor to come to get released from the hospital.

They allowed me to stay one night after all.

It appears- I can see it by looking under my armpit- that they unexpectedly took lymph nodes, on the supposedly “good” left side.

They said they were only doing it from the right side before surgery.

I asked the nurse who said she is not sure and can only see the notes, but it appears they took nodes unexpectedly from the left side as well.

I’m guessing even though that was the “good” breast, they somehow “saw” something in that left breast that raised suspicion??

I donated my breasts to the John Wayne Cancer institute for research.

Does this mean they can see something suspicious during the bilateral mastectomy surgery to also take nodes on the left side????

How would they suddenly take the left side nodes as well.

I noticed the surgery took twice as long as the doctor said it would, so I am guessing they saw something.

Thank you, and if no one knows, I’ll hope to post the answer once they tell me what they found. Still not totally with it from anesthesia.

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Jul 2, 2020 10:20AM - edited Jul 2, 2020 11:50AM by SpecialK

It is somewhat common for sentinel node removal on the non-cancer side during bi-lateral mastectomy, and it is dependent on the surgeon's philosophy. I had cancer in one breast only but opted for bi-lateral mastectomy for several reasons. My surgeon's practice was to do a SNB on the prophylactic side. The reason for this is because once the breast has been removed a sentinel node can't be identified. If something is discovered in the non-cancer breast during post-op pathology you have lost the opportunity to go back and retrieve a sentinel afterward. Of course, it is also possible that your surgeon made this decision based on what was observed during your surgery, but I wanted to offer my experience and the rationale for bi-lateral SNB when having both breasts removed even though there is known cancer only on one side. Was it your surgeon who said they would do the SNB only on the cancer side, or someone else? I have had a number of surgeries related to my breast cancer diagnosis and have found that sometimes ancillary staff is not always in the loop on the plan.

BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 15 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 6/18/13-present. Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3 Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
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Jul 2, 2020 11:31AM KARW41 wrote:

Thank you so much. You are right.

The nurse didn’t know.

The resident came in and said they only took nodes on the affected right side.

It was the tail of breast tissue they took out.

I know the info you posted about the surgeon’s decision to sometimes do both sides’ nodes will help others.

I say that because I Googled all around and didn’t find the answer.


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