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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid