How to Use this Guide


The information in this guide will help prepare you for your axillary lymph node dissection. It also has information about what will happen on the day of surgery and how to manage your care after the operation.

Your surgeon and Sunnybrook nursing staff will go over this guide with you.

We know this may be a stressful time for you and you will be given a lot of information about your medical condition. This guide will help you keep track of what you need to do for your surgery.

Your medical records are accessible online through MyChart, a service available to Sunnybrook patients. In order to use MyChart you will need a password, which can be picked up at the Medical Records Desk on the second fl oor of the Odette Cancer Centre (Room T2-212). You can also get a password by completing the form on this webpage. The website address for MyChart is MyChart.ca

What is an Axillary Lymph Node Dissection?

Lymph nodes act as filters in the body's circulatory system. Sometimes cancer cells from the skin can spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system and get trapped in the lymph nodes in the armpit.

  • The most common skin cancers that can spread to the lymph nodes are melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and merkel cell carcinoma. Your doctors will talk to you about your type of skin cancer.
  • During the surgery, the surgeon will remove all of the lymph nodes from the armpit area. This surgery is called an axillary lymph node dissection. The axillary lymph node dissection is done if a needle biopsy has already shown that there is cancer in the lymph nodes.
  • After the surgeon removes the lymph nodes, they will be sent to a lab for testing. This information helps the doctors decide what other treatments you will need.

Important Reminders:

  • Please bring this booklet with you to your pre-anesthesia assessment appointment and on the day of your surgery.
  • Please bring your Ontario Health Card and your Sunnybrook card on every visit to the hospital.
  • If you do not read or speak English, please bring someone with you who can translate.

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