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Researchers find clues to breast cancer survival

Lymph node checks during surgery improve survival

OnMedica Staff

Monday, 08 June 2009

Checking lymph nodes during surgery and assessing the hormone status of tumours could help improve breast cancer survival in Britain.

The findings published today in Annals of Oncology, involved a study of over 9,000 breast cancer patients at ten hospitals in the East of England. Researchers found that hospitals with a better average survival were those where surgeons checked lymph nodes during surgery in more than 90% of patients.

Professor Stephen Duffy, Cancer Research UK professor of screening and study author, said: "We found that the proportion of women under 70 who had lymph node checks as recommended by NICE ranged from 81% to 94% with the hospitals with higher percentages having better survival."

The study also found that, for women over 70, having surgery to remove their tumour and checking the hormone type were the two main factors which explained survival differences between hospitals.

The hospitals showing better survival in the over 70s were those which assessed the hormone receptor status in more of their patients.

Professor Gordon Wishart, the leading author on the study, said: "Lymph node staging and hormone receptor typing give valuable information to decide on optimal treatment after surgery. As more hospitals follow current professional guidelines and carry out these investigations, more effective treatment will follow and patient survival is likely to improve even further."

The team of researchers from London and Cambridge compared breast cancer survival rates between ten different hospitals across eastern England.

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