New Lymphnode Removal Procedure May Help Breast Cancer Patients

New procedures may alleviate painful, intrusive surgeries

The painful process of removing several lymphnodes from the armpit among breast cancer sufferers who are already receiving radiation therapy may no longer be necessary according to a report published in a Feb. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Contrary to current belief that the removal of lymphnodes from the armpit may prolong life, new research discovered that dissection and removal only of those specified cancerous lymphnodes, or sentinel nodes, may be just as beneficial for extension of life.

Coming up with these findings, the researchers from the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California utilized 1,000 breast cancer sufferers. Each person was known to have cancerous lymphnodes and had already undergone a lumpectomy for tumor removal followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Women were randomly placed into one of two groups. The first group of women received the original lymphnode removal, and the second group the new specific removal.

After five years of monitoring and evaluation, there was a 92 percent survival rate in both groups, suggesting little benefit for women to have the more invasive operation.

Despite the promising implication of this study, there is still no definite protocol to be made base on these findings since the study did not actually involve a greater population of breast cancer sufferers but instead of just a select group experts explain.

Scientists say this study is the leading randomized trial that showed chemo-treated patients with positive sentinel nodes would no longer require removal of additional auxiliary lymphnodes for sampling. Additionally, this new procedure may limit current complications from the invasive surgery.