Study: Lymph Node Removal May Be Unnecessary for Certain Breast Cancer Patients

by: cancercompass

According to a new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, women with early-stage breast cancer may not need to have several of their lymph nodes removed in order to reduce the risk of cancer spreading.

Some experts believe that removing many of one’s lymph nodes prevents the cancer from spreading, but according to this study, sampling only one or two sentinel lymph nodes is just as beneficial.  Sentinel lymph node biopsy is a diagnostic procedure that helps doctors determine whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes without removing a large number of nodes.

"That's great news for women," the study's lead author, Dr. Armando Giuliano, told NPR. "And the fact that the women who did not have their lymph nodes removed had just as high a survival is great news because we can avoid that more radical [lymph node] operation, which has its own attendant complications."

Removing lymph nodes can come with complications like lymphedema, which is swelling from excess lymphatic fluid where the nodes where taken out.

Giuliano states further that the study will come with controversy and apprehension, and may be slow to accept.

To learn more about the cancer featured in this post, please visit our breast cancer information page.