News / Health

New Study Shows Less Surgery Better for Breast Cancer Patients

Nurse Assisting Patient Undergoing Mammogram
Nurse Assisting Patient Undergoing Mammogram

When breast cancer has spread to a patient's lymph system, surgeons traditionally have operated to remove a large number of underarm lymph nodes, to eliminate any trace of the cancer. The procedure is effective, but it can cause permanent complications. Now, a new study shows there is no advantage to taking out so many lymph nodes, and the finding could mean major changes in breast cancer surgery.  

When breast cancer spreads to nearby lymph nodes, doctors have two choices:  they can remove the main tumor and the one or two lymph nodes closest to it.  This is called sentinal node biopsy.  Or, they can go with a more aggressive approach and take out a large number of lymph nodes.

The more aggressive approach can wipe out the cancer, but complications often include shoulder pain or permanent and painful swelling of the arm.  

Dr. Armando Giuliano at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in the western state of California wanted to see if the cancer could be eliminated with less aggressive surgery.  "Removing fewer lymph nodes results in less pain, less morbidity,” he said. “It's an outpatient procedure."

The more radical surgery requires a one- or two-day stay in a hospital, and results in greater post-operative pain.  

Dr. Armando Giuliano
Dr. Armando Giuliano
So Bobbie Saunders was relieved when her doctor offered to perform the less radical procedure when she was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago.  "I had already experienced a lot of people that had been through the radical, so I was really excited that I was offered this," she stated.

Dr. Giuliano and researchers at several top cancer centers in the U.S. studied nearly 900 patients whose breast cancer had spread to just one or two lymph nodes. Half had the more radical procedure while the others had the simpler surgery. Both groups had radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

Bobbie Saunders
Bobbie Saunders
"The five-year survival [rate] was about 92 percent, regardless of which operation [they had]. And wonderfully, women who had the sentinal node biopsy alone did just as well as the women who had the more radical operation," Dr. Giuliano explains.

Researchers say combining chemotherapy and radiation with the simpler surgery accounts for the high success rate of the less radical procedure.

Some experts say the study is likely to change the way surgeons treat early-stage breast cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes. But other cancer specialists -- and their patients -- say they want more proof before changing the standard practice. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid