Lymph node surgery could be avoided for some women with aggressive types of breast cancer

Barcelona, Spain: Sentinel lymph node biopsies, where lymph nodes are surgically removed to check for signs of breast cancer spread, could be safely avoided for some women, according to research presented at the 11th European Breast Cancer Conference.

Breast cancer becomes most dangerous when it begins to spread to other parts of the body and one of the first places it spreads to is nearby lymph nodes, known as sentinel lymph nodes. To check for signs of spread, surgeons remove sentinel lymph nodes from under the arm. This procedure can leave women with long-standing side effects such as swelling, numbness and reduced movement of the arm.

Two new studies show that women with either ‘triple negative’ or HER2 positive types of breast cancer, whose cancers respond well to chemotherapy given before surgery, have a very low risk of having any cancer cells in these lymph nodes.

The first study was by a team at University Hospital Vall Hebron, Barcelona, Spain, led by breast surgeon Christian Sisó MD.

They studied a group of 90 patients treated at the hospital between January 2011 and December 2016. All had either HER2 positive cancer (where the cancer cells have a high level of


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