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In selected cases, before radical prostatectomy, lymph nodes near the prostate gland will be removed and evaluated to determine if the prostate cancer has spread.
do lymph nodes have to do with cancer?
Lymph is a clear fluid circulating throughout the body. Filled with infection-fighting cells, lymph carries foreign bodies, including impurities, germs and cancer cells, away from internal organs. Lymph vessels transport the lymph from organs to lymph nodes, bean-shaped collections of infection-fighting cells, which filter and capture the foreign bodies. Lymph vessels then transport the filtered lymph back into the bloodstream.
Lymph vessels in the pelvis are responsible for carrying foreign bodies away from the prostate gland. If prostate cancer has spread outside the prostate gland, one of the first places it may travel is to lymph nodes in the pelvis.
radical retropubic prostatectomy
In selected cases, lymph nodes are removed as one of the first steps in a radical retropubic prostatectomy. The surgeon makes an incision in the lower abdomen, from the pubic bone to the navel. Before reaching the prostate gland, the surgeon removes a small amount of tissue on either side of the bladder. The tissue, which contains lymph nodes, is immediately examined by a pathologist, a doctor who specializes in identifying diseases by noting changes in organs, tissues and fluids. The pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to see if the lymph nodes are cancer-free. If no cancer is found, then the operation continues.
The Prostate Cancer pages of this website are part of the Comprehensive Prostate Cancer Awareness Program (CPCAP), a major regional effort to reduce the rates of death and illness caused by prostate cancer in southwestern Pennsylvania. Funding for CPCAP is provided by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.