An axillary clearance or ‘axillary dissection’ is a procedure where a larger number of lymph nodes are removed from the axilla. This can vary from between five and forty lymph nodes. An axillary clearance may be performed if the sentinel lymph node is positive, or if the lymph nodes are known to be positive before an operation.
The aim is to remove all the cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit to prevent cancer coming back (axillary recurrence).
An axillary clearance is a more involved and invasive procedure than a sentinel lymph node biopsy. Dr Lancashire will tell you more about what an axillary clearance involves if one is recommended.