Once again, what is thought to be known in medicine becomes questionable when it is actually studied. Something that seems to be happening with alarming frequency. The latest case is found in the lead study in the current issue of the Journal of the America Medical Association (JAMA) raises questions about the practice of removing cancerous lymph nodes from the armpit of many early breast cancer patients. The practice has been standard practice for decades and can be painful.
The practice is based on the assumption that removing the nodes close to the breast can help prevent the spread and reinsurance of the cancer, apparently the practice has not been well studied.
THe objective of the study, write the authors was, “To determine the effects of complete axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) on survival of patients with sentinel lymph node (SLN) metastasis of breast cancer.”
Researchers found that for about 20 percent of patients removing cancerous nodes does not impact survival or re-occurrence. The 20 percent means about 40,000 women a year undergo an unnecessary procedure that, like all medical procedures, carries risks and expense. Researchers suspect that chemotherapy and radiation was enough to eliminate the cancer in the nodes.