Skip to main content

Routine Breast Cancer Treatment Questioned


It's long been accepted practice for doctors to remove cancerous lymph nodes from the armpits of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in the belief that doing so would prolong their lives. But a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center throw that practice into question, says the New York Times' Denise Grady. The new findings suggest that for about 20 percent of women who fit certain criteria, the removal of these nodes does not affect survival or recurrence rates, and can even be harmful, leading to complications like infection and lymphedema, Grady says. Plus, the women in the study had undergone chemotherapy and radiation, which had already wiped out cancer in the nodes, she adds. Some clinicians have already altered their practices as a result of this new study and others like it that showed similar results; Sloan-Kettering says its doctors knew the results of the study before it was published and consequently, they changed their protocols in September. The new results don't apply to all women, Grady adds, but only women with early-stage tumors who have had lumpectomies, radiation, and chemotherapy.

The Scan

And For Adolescents

The US Food and Drug Administration has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.

Also of Concern to WHO

The Wall Street Journal reports that the World Health Organization has classified the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.617 as a "variant of concern."

Test for Them All

The New York Times reports on the development of combined tests for SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses like influenza.

PNAS Papers on Oral Microbiome Evolution, Snake Toxins, Transcription Factor Binding

In PNAS this week: evolution of oral microbiomes among hominids, comparative genomic analysis of snake toxins, and more.