A recent study with lasting affect on the guardians of the status quo in breast cancer care and treatment has found that lymph node surgery for women provides no benefit. In women who had early breast cancer which had spread to their lymph nodes, removing them does not improve their survival rate or prevent the further spreading of cancer. Unfortunately, this painful and lucrative procedure of removing lymph nodes has long been routine for breast cancer patients.

Surgeons have been removing lymph nodes from under the arms of breast cancer patients for 100 years, with the idea that it would prolong women’s lives by keeping their cancers from spreading or coming back.

The study, known as The American College of Surgeons Oncology Group Z0011 Trial, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It was conducted at 115 medical centers and included 891 women with median age in the mid-50s. The median time participants were followed was 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. Over time, the two groups had no difference in survival or recurrence.

According to study authors Dr. Grant Walter Carlson and Dr. William C. Wood, the study “definitively showed that auxiliary lymph node dissection is not beneficial.” They noted that survival was independent of lymph node status.

“Taken together, findings from these [and other] investigators provide strong evidence that patients undergoing partial mastectomy, whole-breast irradiation, and systemic therapy for early breast cancer with microscopic sentinel lymph node metastasis can be treated effectively and safely without auxiliary node dissection,” they said.

Another study author, Dr. Monica Morrow, chief of the breast service at Sloan-Kettering, noted, “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, Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University professor of surgery Dr. Grant W. Carlson said, “I have a feeling we’ve been doing a lot of harm (by routinely taking out many nodes).”

Indeed, women in the study who had nodes taken out were far more likely to have complications (70 percent versus 25 percent). Such 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).”

Coupled with recent findings about unnecessary mastectomies, and the proven dangers and ineffectiveness of chemo and radiation, this study is yet another indictment of the failed mainstream cancer treatments used in the failed “War on Cancer”.

Could it be that mainstream medical science will come full circle and finally realize that clinging to ineffective and harmful treatments, which try to cut out, poison out or burn out the symptoms of cancer, will never be effective against cancer? A much better idea would be to look first at what has gone awry to the point where a cancer has manifested itself, and make the changes that are needed to bring the body back to a state of homeostasis.

Caitlin McCarthy – DES drug case advances