Gwen’s best of SABCS 2011: Isolated tumor cells (ITCs) and micrometases in lymph nodes do NOT worsen overall survival

by Gwen on January 8, 2012

© 2012 Carl H. Stritter All rights reserved.

You can find an overview of the most important presentations of the 2011 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium here.

Poster #3-07-34 by A. Valachis and others

There has been a lot of debate as to whether very tiny deposits of cancer cells found in lymph nodes removed at the time of breast surgery mean increased risk of relapse or death. Some studies find no association and others do.

Swedish researchers had the bright idea to pool all the studies that had been done on the subject and analyze the data as a whole. This technique is called a meta-analysis. Using this method, their report would be more accurate as it analyzes data from over 2,200 patients instead of only 100 – 150 as found in the average report.

While they found some increased risk of breast cancer relapse, there was no increase in deaths. This makes sense since breast cancer relapse can often be cured.

Since this meta-analysis was performed, the updated results of the ACOSOG Z0010 trial[1], a very large research study involving over 5,000 breast cancer specimens, also showed no increased risk of death with isolated tumor cells.

So those of you whose lymph nodes turned up a tiny bit of cancer can rest a bit easier.

Please see references below.

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*Information on the Breast Equity blog is provided on an “as is” basis for general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional.*

© 2012 Gwendolyn M Stritter, MD. All rights reserved.


[1] The ACOSOG Z0010 abstract can be found here.

© 2012, Gwen. All rights reserved.

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