New link in lymph node removal successful in Breast Cancer surgery

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Written by Alyssa Clark Researchers and scientists involved with breast cancer research have uncovered a connection, earning the name of “the co...

Written by Alyssa Clark


Researchers and scientists involved with breast cancer research have uncovered a connection, earning the name of “the conservative approach”, between removing lymph nodes and successful breast cancer surgery. It actually has called lesser harm for patient and has the same benefits as the more invasive, normal procedure.

Dr. Roshni Rao, associate professor of surgery at UT Southwestern, and other researchers from the Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center has referenced numerous case studies of patient results after women had undergone various forms of surgical treatment such as: removing one lymph node from the armpit region (to prevent the spread of the cancer) to removing an entire network of lymph nodes from the armpit region. The study was published earlier this week in the October 2nd edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It has been standard practice within surgical methods to completely dissect axillary nodes (distributed at the edge of the chest muscles and into the armpits and lower neck), totaling all 20-30 nodes in an area, if the sentinel node biopsy deemed that the sample was positive. The sentinel node is usually the first node tested by doctors to check for cancer, since it is the place where cancer cells will spread from a primary tumor. The indication of a positive sentinel tests tells physicians and surgeons that the tumor is metastasized and can be used to determine the stage of cancer.

Reviews have reported that there is little proof to support doing a complete axillary dissection in comparison with the lone sentinel biopsy; this process will assist women with no suspicious axillary nodes undergoing breast-conserving therapy, which is defined as mastectomy followed by breast radiation.

"In the past, axillary nodal status was a critical factor considered in therapy decisions," said Dr. Rao, a breast cancer surgeon. "With the validation of sentinel lymph node biopsy, the same staging information can be obtained with less morbidity and risk to the patient. And now that decisions regarding chemotherapy are often guided by molecular tumor profiling in an era of personalized medicine, there are other avenues to explore beyond aggressive surgeries." 

Dr. Rao and her associates have also compared the pros and cons of this sentinel node biopsy research and complete axillary node dissection with past, already published research. These important doctors have also looked at these procedures with nonsurgical interventions (which would mean adding more radiation) for women with breast cancer who do not have palpable lymph nodes or adequate ultrasound evidence.

Other authors include Dr. David Euhus,professor of surgery, a Simmons Cancer Center member and part of the Division of Surgical Oncology; Dr. Charles Balch, professor of surgery, oncology and dermatology and Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research; and Helen Mayo, Faculty Associate in the UT Southwestern Library. 

Visit UT Southwestern's Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center to learn more about cancer research, screening, and therapy at UT Southwestern, including highly individualized treatments at the region''s only National Cancer Institute-designated center. 

About the Author

Alyssa Clark is the Editor of Healthcare Global



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