Cancerfighter’s Weblog

Alternative cancer therapies and ideas

Don#t have your lymph nodes taken out! – Say no to lymphadenectomy

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on February 22, 2011


There’s a lot of cancer related information on this site – do browse – this supports and extends the info in my two books – see www.fightingcancer.com for details

Lymph Node dissection ‘not beneficial’ – says important study

When surgeons remove lumps from breasts, it is standard practice to remove any lymph nodes that appear to have cancer cells in them. But this practice has recently been shown to be not only useless but creates additional unneccessary problems for patients. However, habit may very well be stronger than science and surgeons will no doubt continue taking out lymph nodes – perhaps while they wait for another study to confirm these findings.

The trial organised American College of Surgeons Oncology Group , published in The Journal of the American  Medical Association (Feb 2011), was conducted at 115 medical centers and included 891 women. The median age was in the mid-50s, and the participants were  followed for a median of 6.3 years.  After an initial node biopsy, women were randomly assigned to have 10 or more additional nodes removed or to leave the nodes alone.  There was no difference in survival or recurrence between the two groups.  According to the authors of the study Dr. Grant Walter Carlson and Dr. William C. Wood,  the study “definitively showed that axillary lymph node dissection is  not beneficial…Survival was independent of lymph node status”.

One of the authors of the study goes on to say: “This is such a radical change in thought that it’s been hard for many people to get their heads around it,”

The author of an editorial accompanying the study,  Dr. Grant W. Carlson, said: “I have a feeling we’ve been doing a lot of harm (by routinely taking out many nodes).”

One of the findings supporting this view is that women in the study who had nodes taken out were far more likely to have complications (70 percent versus 25 percent). These complications included infections, abnormal sensations and fluid collecting in the armpit, and lymphedema.

Dr. Armando E. Giuliano, the lead author of the study and the chief of surgical oncology at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, reported that the standard  practice of lymph node removal has been so ingrained that “some  prominent institutions wouldn’t even take part in (the study).”

Note: The Cancer Survivor’s Bible (2012) is now available – see www.fightingcancer.com

“A very well written book, beautifully organised and easy to read and understand.”

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2 Responses to “Don#t have your lymph nodes taken out! – Say no to lymphadenectomy”

  1. Darlene Gilchrist said

    I’ve had 4 surgeries to take out my nodes an some other things that they grew into. I was sick after each surgery an had to do phisical tharapy a few times BC of the surgeries. It’s fustrading exspecialy when they got no real answers for me except what they think it might b. I’m a mom of 3 an so it’s hard not k.owing things an haven these problems with my nodes.

  2. Darlene Gilchrist said

    So please give me some feed back on what to do next BC I still have a few that need to b removed an not Shure if I wont to go through it again for the 5 time

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