Sentinel node surgery sufficient to detect residual breast cancer

Sentinel lymph node (SLN) surgery successfully identified the presence of residual breast cancer in lymph nodes in nearly all patients in a recent study. The SLN approach is less invasive than axillary lymph node dissection.

The 756 women studied all had node-positive breast cancer and had undergone chemotherapy as an initial treatment. A total of 637 had both SLN and axillary lymph node surgery. SLN surgery correctly identified the remaining presence of cancer in 91% of the women, including 255 with node-negative breast cancer and 326 with continuing node-positive disease.

As lead investigator Judy C. Boughey, MD, a breast surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, noted in a statement issued by the Mayo Clinic, removing only a few lymph nodes reduces the risk of numbness, arm swelling, and other complications. The findings were presented at the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Symposium held in San Antonio, Texas, December 4-8, 2012.

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