UVM researcher publishes largest breast cancer study

A UVM researcher has published the largest breast cancer surgery study in history. Physical researcher in the surgery department Dr. David Krag produced a study on a less invasive surgical procedure for detecting breast cancer that ran in the Sept. 21 “Online First” edition of medical journal Lancet Oncology. The procedure has been proven just as effective as the traditional, invasive lymph node removal surgery in patients who initially tested negative for cancer, University Communications said. “You know you get goosebumps,” Krag said, according to WCAX News. “If you can take some of the stress away of this terrible disease, it’s just fantastic.” In Krag’s procedure, sentinel node biopsy, only a few key lymph nodes are removed instead of all of the lymph nodes in the armpit, a procedure called axillary dissection. “What this means — beyond a shadow of a doubt — is that at least two-thirds of breast cancer patients do not need to have their lymph nodes removed,” Krag said. “There is a significant benefit to sentinel node biopsy when it comes to improved recovery and potential side effects, because the area heals so quickly.” Sentinel node biopsy produces fewer long-term side effects such as chronic swelling of the arm, infection and loss of mobility, University Communications said. “These data allow us to now confidently offer this treatment option to surgeons as a safe and effective therapy for breast cancer patients,” Krag said. “Sentinel node surgery represents the next major step in reducing the extent of surgical procedures to treat breast cancer.” The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute Department of Health and Human Services, PHS and Vermont Cancer Center, according to University Communications.