Once a woman has been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, the course of treatment will depend on whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes (which is the more usual way the cancer can spread throughout the body). Because this process requires the coordination of radiology, surgery and pathology professionals, a patient’s anxiety is often prolonged over several days or even weeks.

Area residents now have a better option. Four local medical service providers have formed a new cooperative to offer lymphoscintigraphy to breast cancer patients on an outpatient basis, thus reducing a patient’s wait time to as little as one day. This partnership includes the offices of Wilmington Surgical Associates, P.A., Atlantic Diagnostic Center, P.A., Wilmington SurgCare, L.P, and Wilmington Pathology Associates, P.A.

“We sympathize with all of our breast cancer and Melanoma patients who come to us needing answers about the health of their lymph nodes. By partnering with three reputable medical providers, we knew we could bring the entire process together. We are confident that this new cooperative will save time as well as help patients to begin treatment as quickly as possible”, say the physicians of Wilmington Surgical Associates, P.A.

Lymphoscintigraphy, also known as Sentinel Node Mapping, is the injection of a radioactive tracer underneath the skin around a melanoma and or breast lump to determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Once the injection has been administered, a certified technologist from Atlantic Diagnostic Center’s Nuclear Medicine Center (2208 S. 17th Street) performs a nuclear medicine scan of the pertinent Lymph nodes. The technologist then marks, on the skin, the nodes that show up on the scan. From there the patient will travel the short distance to Wilmington SurgCare, L.P (1801 S. 17th Street) where Board Certified Surgeons Dr. Ellis Tinsley Jr., Dr. Mark Medley, Dr. Gregory Bebb, Dr. Robert Cortina and Dr. Thomas Eskew Jr. (Wilmington Surgical Associates, P.A.) will use a neoprobe that specifically marks the individual node and then removes the affected nodes. The nodes are then delivered to Wilmington Pathology Associates, P.A. for dissection.

“What makes this cooperative unique for breast cancer patients and their physicians is the fast diagnosis and removal of any suspicious lymph nodes. In most cases, the entire process can occur within 24 hours, not days or even weeks depending on the backlog at a hospital,” says Nancy Parker, COO of Atlantic Diagnostic Center.

Whether the lymph nodes contain cancer cells is an important factor when staging breast cancer, determining treatment, and predicting survival. Though breast cancer has the potential to spread to other regions of the body first, it most commonly spreads first to the lymph nodes located in the underarm area. This is known as regional spread. From there, the breast cancer can metastasize (spread) systematically to other areas of the body (such as the bone, liver, lung, or brain).

For more information about this new outpatient procedure offering, please contact our office.