Removal of lymph nodes is a routine part of surgery for gynecologic cancers. Memorial Sloan-Kettering gynecologic surgeons, led by Nadeem R. Abu-Rustum, have developed a simple procedure to identify and remove the most important lymph nodes during surgery for early-stage endometrial or cervical cancers. This technique involves injecting a colored dye that leads to the critical lymph nodes, which can then be removed and tested for cancer cells.
Known as sentinel lymph node mapping, this procedure allows surgeons to remove only the important lymph nodes, which can lead to a shorter surgery for women and decreased side effects such as lymphedema (swelling of the legs). The removal of fewer lymph nodes also means that pathologists can examine these more precisely for the spread of cancer.