Minimally invasive approach may help curtail spread of cancer
Interesting and a little personally frustrating to read that new research claims breast cancer patients benefit from a minimally invasive procedure to curtail the spread of cancer after the tumour has been removed. If I had been given the choice (which I wasn’t) at the time, I would certainly have opted for a sentinel node biopsy instead of the full axillary clearance I received. The good news is that I had no nodal involvement, but the nerves were damaged during the surgery and I have numbness in the tips of my fingers and of course, the numbness, soreness and lack of movement in the arm on which the op was performed.
The latest research compared a major operation that removes a portion of the lymph glands along with a breast tumour, and a less invasive procedure that removes a smaller amount of lymph tissue after the primary tumour has been taken out.
“We examined the outcome of nearly 10,000 patients following breast cancer surgery and demonstrated that minimally invasive surgery not only causes far fewer complications but also is more accurate,” said Malcom Kell, a consultant at the Mater Hospital and with the BreastCheck screening programme.
After removing a primary tumour from the breast, a surgeon needs to check if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but removing large sections of lymph brings a risk of complications for the patient, he said.
In recent years, doctors have used a “sentinel node biopsy”, which removes less tissue. “By doing that you reduce the chance of causing a problem for the patient, but the downside is you worry that you will miss something.”
Mr Kell, with John Burke and Mitchel Barry at the Mater and Monica Morrow at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, analysed seven trials comparing the procedures. “We have found it’s more accurate to do the sentinel node biopsy – you are more likely to find malignancy in these lymph nodes as opposed to doing the full surgery and removing everything,” he said.
Source: Irish Times Health
another step towards more personalized treatment rather than the old blunderbus approach
i too had a full axillary clearance and am actually very angry that i was not offered a sentinel node biopsy as my nodes were clear
I had a sentinel biopsy in 2002 and it showed I had no lymph node involvement. I wonder if it was accurate, however, because it came back in my lymph nodes in 2008. It was deep under my pectoral muscle so I couldn’t feel it until it got very large (9 cm) and also was under scar tissue from my biopsy. Kind of makes you go, “Hmmmm.”
I was fortunate to have a great surgeon and a sentinel node biopsy. The initial stain was all clear on that yet 7 total nodes were take, the sentinel, the one next to it and 5 in the breast tissue (I was having a mastectomy). Further staining showed micro-metstases though in one of the nodes, the sentinel node, but the decision was to not go back in for more surgery since I was receiving chemo also. So many decisions to be made, it is hard to look back and wonder at all the possibilities, ifs, and questions…
Do you think it helps having the treatment before the surgery?
My mum is convinced it helped her. She was in St. Lukes for six weeks having brachy and chemotherapy and then had surgery to remove her bowel……mind you the bowel had to be removed because of the effects of brachytherapy rather then the cancer which they said had gone.