Statement from Inova Breast Care Center

Journal of American Medical Association publishes results of breast cancer study, which questions lymph node removal

Statement from Inova Breast Care Center – (February 9, 2011)

Certainly the results of the recent study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found a subset of patients who did not have additional lymph nodes removed because of breast cancer were no less likely to survive five years after the surgery than those who did, is exciting news. Here at Inova Breast Care Center we agree with this study and support using data such as this to better target treatment. We have taken into account that there is a small subset of women with favorable characteristics, undergoing lumpectomy and radiation treatment with a small tumor, who likely do not need to remove additional lymph nodes from their armpit even if one of their nodes is positive. However as the study authors themselves indicate, the “limitations of the study such as the failure to achieve target accrual and the possible randomization imbalance favoring the sentinel lymph node alone group must be considered.” The goal of physicians treating women with breast disease is to appropriately balance treating tumors aggressively without over treating the patients. In addition to caring for the patients’ quality of life by limiting unwanted side effects to a minimum. Fortunately, the trend in cancer care is to better target treatment for the individual patient and the data found in this study certainly contributes to our knowledge of options. We look forward to updates on this landmark study and other research related to breast care

Costanza Cocilovo, MD, Medical Director, Inova Breast Care Center

Inova Health System is a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Northern Virginia that consists of hospitals and other health services, including emergency- and urgent-care centers, home care, nursing homes, mental health and blood donor services, and wellness classes. Governed by a voluntary board of community members, Inova’s mission is to improve the health of the diverse community it serves through excellence in patient care, education and research. Inova provides a healthy environment for its patients, families, visitors, staff and physicians by prohibiting tobacco use on its campuses.

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