A study for a new cancer treatment procedure called sentinel lymph node dissection (SLND) that may take the place of axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) has been published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA).
The common procedure ALND is an important and effective cancer treatment for more advanced breast cancer, but it is also a very painful early breast cancer treatment which involves removing multiple lymph nodes from the armpit. It not only removes the cancerous nodes, but it also removes surrounding nodes that could be cancerous as well. This method is not only painful, but can come with very disturbing side effects such as numbness, shoulder pain, limitation of motion, infection and lymphedema when the arm swells. This swelling can often times be permanent.
The new method SLND could save approximately twenty percent of breast cancer sufferers from having to undergo ALND, according the JAMA study. The study for SLND involved approximately 900 women who were being treated for breast cancer through the processes of lumpectomies and radiation therapy. The women were being treated at 115 different centers in the United States. According to the study, approximately half of the women also received ALND which showed to not significantly prevent recurrence of breast cancer or increase the survival rate of these women.
The co-author of the study and head of surgical breast oncology at M.D. Anderson Center, Dr. Kelly Hunt stated, “As we've learned more about biology of breast cancer we don't need these radical surgeries. [We do] not [need to] create all this collateral damageby removing normal uninvolved lymph nodes."