A sentinel node biopsy determines if breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. An important part of staging cancer, it impacts recommendations for a patient's treatment. Learn more about sentinel node biopsy from Lillie Shockney, administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Breast Center. For more information about the Johns Hopkins Breast Center, visit http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/breast_center/ 0:00.0 [MUSIC] 0:05.1 In some cases of breast cancer, 0:06.9 the disease can spread to your lymph nodes. 0:10.1 Lymph nodes serve as a filtering system for the lymphatic system, 0:14.2 which is a system of vessels that collect fluids from 0:17.5 cells for filtration and re-entry into the blood. 0:20.7 The sentinel, or guard node, is the first lymph node 0:23.6 where breast cancer travels if it is going to spread. 0:26.5 To find this node, a doctor can inject either 0:29.2 a special blue dye, or a radioactive isotope, or both, 0:32.7 into the breast prior to surgery. 0:35.5 It moves from the breast tissue through the lymphatic vessels 0:38.3 towards the armpit area, known as the axilla. 0:41.5 The first node to turn blue or have the highest radioactive 0:44.5 count is considered the sentinel node. 0:47.7 Knowing if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes 0:50.6 is a critical part of staging of the cancer, and 0:53.5 therefore, impacts the recommendations for 0:55.6 additional treatment of the patient's breast cancer. 0:59.5 At the Johns Hopkins Breast Center, our breast surgical 1:02.8 oncologists have been performing sentinel node biopsies since 1:06.5 1996, when they began first as clinical trials. 1:09.6 With our work and 1:10.6 that of colleagues at other medical centers, 1:13.3 the sentinel node biopsy is now standard of care for determining 1:17.1 the presence of cancer in the axillary lymph nodes.