Tari King, MD, FACS, chief of Breast Surgery, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham Women’s Cancer Center, discusses approaches to treating lymphedema in patients with breast cancer.
Investigators have been studying the effects of not removing additional lymph nodes in patient with breast cancer. Both observation and axillary radiotherapy have been proven to be effective and have lower rates of lymphedema than axillary node dissection, says King, although many providers prefer to avoid radiation, if possible.
Women who do not have additional surgery do not have to see their physician or undergo extra testing as often as those who do undergo additional surgery, as the rate of axillary recurrence is so low. These patients only require standard surveillance due to this low event rate, says King.