Sentinel node biopsy unnecessary for DCIS breast cancer

Sentinel node biopsy unnecessary for DCIS breast cancer

Women with DCIS breast cancer gain no benefit from having a sentinel node biopsy yet unnecessary and potentially painful side-effects, according to new research from the Yale School of Public Health.

The study included 5,957 women between ages 67 and 94, who had undergone a lumpectomy to remove DCIS, including 1,992 who had undergone a sentinel lymph node biopsy, and 3,965 women who did not have the biopsy procedure, and followed them for almost 6 years after the lumpectomy. 

A Sentinel Node Biopsy removes and examines the sentinel node - the first lymph node under the nearest armpit, supposedly reached by the cancer. If the biopsy is negative the cancer has theoretically not metastasised.

Researchers found that a biopsy of the sentinel node:

  • Did not reduce the likelihood of dying from breast cancer
  • Did not decrease the chances of developing invasive breast cancer
  • Did not decrease the number of additional cancer treatments

But the procedure did increase the patient's risk for side-effects associated with the biopsy, for example, pain, wound infection and lymphedoema, which could restrict a woman's arm movements.

Up to half of women with Ductal Carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, currently undergo sentinel lymph node biopsies, even though experts do not recommend the procedure for DCIS patients in the USA, said Shi-Yi Wang, M.D., a Yale School of Public Health associate professor and the study's lead author.

Women diagnosed with DCIS almost always have surgery (usually a wide-excision lumpectomy) to remove the DCIS and not the entire breast.

Go to: Breast cancer, Ductal carcimoma, DCIS, calcium and bone strength

2019 Research
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