Ethics in Medicine

Lymph Node Dissection Not Necessary in Breast Cancer

Kristen Sparrow • February 18, 2011

This study came out a few weeks ago and I’ve been meaning to post about it just because it is of utmost interest to patients and health practitioners alike. The study finds that lymph node dissection does not improve outcomes in women with breast cancer. Lymph node dissection turns out to fall into the category of something that makes utmost sense from a logical, western medicine standpoint, but in fact does not improve outcomes. There is a tyranny of logic that states that if something makes sense, it need not be studied. But we have to remember that placebo is very powerful and we need to apply the standard of studies across all treatment modalities.

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Lymph Node Study Shakes Pillar of Breast Cancer Care

A new study finds that many women with early breast cancer do not need a painful procedure that has long been routine: removal of cancerous lymph nodes from the armpit.

The discovery turns standard medical practice on its head. Surgeons have been removing lymph nodes from under the arms of breast cancer patients for 100 years, believing it would prolong women’s lives by keeping the cancer from spreading or coming back…