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Women with early-stage breast cancer do not benefit from lymph node removal

June 10, 2017

Occult metastases usually cannot be seen in routine pathological or clinical examination. The tiny cells were detected with immunochemical staining of sentinel lymph nodes and bone marrow specimens from patients with early-stage breast cancer.

Some 5,210 women with breast cancer enrolled in the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group trial at 126 sites nationwide from May 1999 to May 2003. All subjects underwent breast-conserving surgery and sentinel lymph node dissection.

"This study shows that the presence of tiny sentinel lymph node metastases has no bearing on survival outcomes," said Giuliano, co-director of the Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center - a Project of the Women's Guild.

According to Giuliano, removing lymph nodes can cause complications such as lymphedema, a chronic and often painful swelling in the arm that can be debilitating. "Treating the patient doesn't end with stopping the cancer," he says. "We want to make sure we maximize the patient's quality of life even after cancer treatment is completed."

Source: www.cedars-sinai.