Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A new study says less is more in breast cancer treatment. I wrote about this counterintuitive finding for the Los Angeles Times. In women with small tumors and signs of lymph node invasion, it turns out that surgically removing cancer-containing lymph nodes from under the arm makes no difference in a woman's survival. Breast cancer experts say this shift in strategy has been a long time coming.

Why wouldn't cutting out cancer help? It's because by the time cancer shows up in lymph nodes, it's proof of escape from the initial tumor site, and many routes are open to spreading cancer cells including the blood and the lymph. "You can't cure metastatic disease with a scalpel," says UCLA's John Glaspy.

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