Cancer spreads to lymph nodes in the armpit more frequently than anywhere else. The presence of cancer in these nodes is therefore a predictor of the potential to spread elsewhere.
In most cases of invasive cancer, surgery to the axilla will be recommended. This can take one of three forms:
The surgery is usually uneventful but the side effects can be a problem later which is why there are currently moves to less aggressive dissection.
Following axillary surgery it is common to place a drain, which is often the reason the hospital stay is over one day. The alternative is to go home with the drain, which is likely to become standard shortly.