One of the longest cancer studies ever, involving 56-hundred women, has led specialists to conclude most women can benefit from a less invasive surgery in diagnosing breast cancer.
The study shows such surgery accurately indicates whether the cancer has spread and needs aggressive treatment. However, the study offers no information on whether doing the less invasive procedure hurts a woman's survival odds.
The study shows that removing just one to three key lymph nodes instead of the usual dozen or more indicates with 97 percent accuracy whether the breast cancer has spread. It also helps women avoid the limited arm motion and chronic swelling many experience with more extensive exploratory surgery.
The study involved more than 230 surgeons throughout North America, including many non-cancer specialists.