Groundbreaking breast cancer research on lymph nodes
Feb 9, 2011
New findings suggest that the well-established painful procedure of removing lymph nodes in certain breast cancer patients may not be necessary, reports the New York Times. The recent research may spare some people afflicted with the disease from having to undergo the procedure.
The new study, which counters the practice of surgically removing lymph nodes in the hopes of preventing cancer metastasis, pertains to about 20 percent of breast cancer patients, according to the news source.
Dr. Armando Giuliano, the principal investigator, told the New York Times that lymph-node removal is so ingrained in modern breast cancer treatment that "It’s hard for us as surgeons and medical oncologists and radiation oncologists to accept that you don’t have to remove the nodes in the armpit."
However, according to the paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "Cancer biology is much better understood now than it was when [Axillary lymph node dissection] was introduced."
The study was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). According to the NCI, more than 200,000 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.