Updated Visitor Policy as of December 29, 2023: Learn More  
Affiliated Organizations
  HN Physicians   School of Nursing   HNH Fitness   Villa Marie Claire   Simulation Learning   Haiti Health Promise
Medical Partners Offices
Cardiovascular Specialists Pulmonary Specialists Obstetrics & Gynecology North Jersey Heart North Jersey Surgical Surgical Specialistss Primary Care Specialty Assoc. Urologic Specialties Women's Health Care

Sentinel Node Mapping

  201-227-6200    |      gynonc@holyname.org

Home  /   Cancer Care  /   Sentinel Node Mapping


With every cancer diagnosis, Holy Name Medical Center oncologists use the latest advancements to determine if the disease has spread beyond the initial site where it was found. Often, depending on the type of cancer, physicians will look first at the lymph nodes, small structures throughout the body that filter harmful substances and help fight infection, to see if they have been invaded by cancer cells.

This standard practice, removing lymph nodes to examine them for cancer, is essential but may cause long-lasting side effects such as lymphedema, a condition that causes painful swelling. Now Holy Name oncologists have expertise in a procedure that reduces the number of lymph nodes needed to be taken out for some gynecological cancers, thereby potentially lessening the risk of developing lymphedema.

Sentinel node mapping, also known as sentinel lymph node biopsy (SNLB), is the process of identifying and removing only the primary lymph nodes where the cancer cells are most likely to have spread from the main tumor site. If the cancer has not spread to these sentinel or primary lymph nodes, then extracting additional ones is often not necessary.

Sentinel node mapping has long been used for breast cancer and melanoma but its use in cervical, vulva and endometrial (uterine) cancers is relatively new and requires physician training and practice. The oncologists at Holy Name are among the select physicians in the country who have expertise in performing this type of procedure.


At the time of surgery a dye is injected into the patient that travels through the lymph channels to the nodes. The dye colors the sentinel nodes and trained surgeons are able to find and remove them. These sentinel lymph nodes are then sent to an experienced pathologist to be examined for cancer.


Sentinel lymph node biopsy may help patients avoid a more extensive lymph node surgery, thereby reducing their risk of developing lymphedema, a painful tissue swelling that can occur when there is a large disruption of the normal flow of lymph fluid through the body. Performing sentinel node mapping can also help increase the accuracy of finding and removing the nodes most at risk of having cancer outside the primary tumor site, which may further inform physicians about the need for additional treatment after surgery.