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Breast Cancer Blog: Axillary Lymph Node Surgery Not Required In Some Older Patients

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Dec 26, 2005

Axillary Lymph Node Surgery Not Required In Some Older Patients

Axillary Lymph Node Surgery Not Required In Some Older Patients
Aim of breast cancer surgery is to remove the breast tumor and remove any possible involvement of lymph nodes. Since lymph nodes in the axilla (arm -pit) is a very common site for cancer spread, breast cancer surgery often involves removal of axiallary lymph nodes as well.

There are two common methods for removal of axillary lymph nodes. A surgeon may initially do a sentinel lymph node biopsy and may proceed to clearing of the lymph nodes in the axilla only if the sentinel lymph node is positive. On the other hand your surgeon may proceed straight to axillary lymph node dissection without first doing a sentinel lymph node biopsy. In any case axillary clearance of lymph nodes is very important in patients suspected of axillary lymph node involvement.

While this is very important in younger women, the question is should we go for a complete axillary clearance for older patients. A recent study published in the Journal Of Clinical Oncology suggests this is un-necessary.

In this study of 473 patients who were aged more than 60 years, clinically node negative and received hormonal therapy for hormone positive tumor the investigators noted no difference between the groups who had axillary clearance and those who had extensive surgery.

Bottom line: If you are sixty years or older, and have no lymph nodes felt by physical examination, the tumor is hormone receptor positive and willing to take hormonal therapy then there is no need for that disfiguring surgery. No need for cherry picking of lymph nodes.

Sherin      



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Janet      


Breast cancer
Every year, more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. Breast cancer ranks second as the leading cause of cancer deaths in American women. Until recently breast cancer topped the list of leading causes of cancer deaths in women, but lately lung cancer has claimed the top position. If skin cancer is excluded, breast cancer is the commonest cancer among American women.

Breast Cancer Blog: Axillary Lymph Node Surgery Not Required In Some Older Patients

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