One of the most important roles of the lymphatic system is to produce the two groups of lymphocytes: T and B cells. The T cells attack cancerous cells, such as breast cancer cells, in the body.

To do this effectively, lymph nodes, which occur in different parts of the body and contain a high concentration of lymphocytes, act as filters that eliminate harmful cancerous cells from the body.

As a result, breast cancer patients may experience reactive lymph nodes, especially the axillary lymph nodes, which occur under the armpits.

Tips

Determining whether your lymph nodes are reactive is important because of the following reasons:

  • Reactive lymph nodes are a major symptom of breast cancer.
  • Doctors often use the condition of reactive lymph nodes to predict the outcome of breast cancer treatments.
  • Sometimes, breast cancer may spread to reactive axillary nodes. If this happens, the entire lymphatic systems may become infected, and the cancer can spread rapidly to other body organs.
  • If the cancerous cells have already spread to reactive lymph nodes, doctors must take into account the severity of the infection in the reactive lymph nodes before determining the most suitable treatment option for a patient.
  • Determining whether breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes is an essential part of determining the extent to which the cancer has spread/metastasized.

Advice

  • As soon as your doctor determines that you have invasive breast cancer, it is important to undergo an axillary lymph node exam as soon as possible. This is because this type of cancer spreads fast from the breast to the surrounding body cells.
  • In order to determine if breast cancer has spread to your axillary lymph nodes, you can undergo an axillary node dissection procedure to remove lymph node tissue for examination. However, a common side effect of this procedure is chronic swelling in the arm due to lymph fluid buildup. Alternatively, you can undergo a sentinel node biopsy that has no serious side effects but is equally effective is establishing if breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.

Citations

Conclusion

Overall, reactive lymph nodes help to fight breast cancer. However, if these nodes become infected, they may facilitate the easy spread of the cancer to other organs. Therefore, it is important to undergo regular axillary lymph nodes check-ups