Tiny Signs of Breast Cancer in Lymph Nodes Don’t Signal Death, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Study

Published: Jul 27, 2011

Microscopic signs of breast cancer in the lymph nodes of women with early-stage disease don’t signal an increased risk of dying, according to a study that suggests testing for the tiny traces may be a needless expense. The survival rate for women with no sign of cancer in the lymph nodes was 95 percent over five years, using a standard test, the researchers said. It remains the same even when more sensitive tests found minute signs of potential malignancy, according to a report in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association. Doctors have long thought the existence of these so-called micro-metastases might raise the risk of death, the researchers said. Overturning that idea will likely change medical practice, said lead researcher Armando Giuliano, co-director of the breast center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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