The Houston Chronicle, February 9, 2011
Women with early-stage breast cancer don't need surgery to remove malignant lymph nodes from the armpits, according to a new study finding that could spare tens of thousands of women a year from the complication-laden procedure. The study, conducted at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and more than 100 other sites, found that taking out cancerous lymph nodes in that subset of women provided no benefit over radiation and drug treatment alone, a repudiation of the time-honored belief that node removal prevents recurrence. "This is a practice-changing finding, a case that proves the adage that less is more," said Kelly Hunt, MD, a professor of surgery at M.D. Anderson and the study's second author. "It shows that we don't have to take out huge swaths of tissue, that we can avoid aggressive surgery without any effect on outcome."