For women diagnosed with Breast Cancer, lymph node removal is a typical procedure performed by conventional doctors either before treatment (in the form of a biopsy) or after surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy.
The premise is that cancer cells in the mammary area will tend to spread to sentinel lymph nodes closest to the tumor before they possibly spread to axillary nodes and then to the rest of the body.
Overuse of lymph node removal for Breast Cancer patients is part of an outdated dogma in the medical community that says that traditional methods like surgery can “get it all” when it comes to cancer.
This mentality may be changing, however. A 2011 study conducted by the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California stated that for approximately 20% of all U.S. Breast Cancer patients (40,000 women a year), removing cancerous nodes proved to have no advantage whatsoever: it did not improve survival rates, make the cancer less likely to re-emerge nor change the treatment plan in any way. The findings were consistent with patients who had the following disease characteristics:
► Early-detected tumors in stage T1 or T2;
►Tumors that were not large enough to be felt during an exam;
►Lumpectomy as the primary conventional treatment and, in some cases, chemotherapy and/or radiation;
►Cancer tumors that had not spread elsewhere in the body.
The California study shook the conventional oncology industry when it was published in the medical journal JAMA.
“I have a feeling we’ve been doing a lot of harm,” said Dr. Grant W. Carlson, the author of the editorial section of the report.
The lymphatic system is the body’s second line of defense (after the skin) for pathogens such as viruses, yeasts, bacteria, and infection. As lymph fluid circulates, it picks up unwanted materials. Lymph nodes like the ones just above the armpit act as “filters” that trap these substances; they also produce white blood cells and are one of the places where cancer-fighting Natural Killer Cells are created.
Lymphedema occurs when lymph fluid collects just below the skin surface. If left unchecked, edema, an inflammatory response, can ensue, which could lead to fibrosis. Fibrosis prevents the natural flow of oxygen and nutrients, encouraging bacteria and infection to flourish.
Up to 70% of all Breast Cancer patients who have had lymph nodes removed in the armpit area will get lymphedema. Lymphedema is a painful, debilitating and potentially life-threatening medical condition. What’s more, it may be completely avoidable.
If you have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, consider all your options, including evidence-based systems that work with your body’s natural healing mechanisms.
And if you chose traditional therapies for Breast Cancer that included lymph node removal in the past, consider these proven natural healing modalities for restoring and maintaining the health of your lymphatic system:
- Practice a daily routine of Skin Brushing;
- Consider thermography and breast self-exam in order to protect sensitive tissue in the breast and lymph node area;
- Boost your immune system by healing the digestive system;
- Get rid of your antiperspirant and use non-aluminum, all natural deodorants instead;
- Gently move your body. Lymph fluid is designed to flow and cannot do that if the body remains stagnant for too long;
- Consider massage which can contribute to lymphatic flow, the removal of toxins and improve circulation;
- Drink lots of fresh, filtered water;
- Consider EFT or “tapping,” which not only massages key lymphatic points but can also help you heal the emotional blocks to healing.
As a follow-up to that seminal 2011 study, a 2014 report published by the Journal of the American College of Surgeons proved that conventional doctors are gradually moving away from the routine protocol of lymph node removal. Of the close to 75,000 lumpectomy patients surveyed, 56% opted for “sentinel node biopsy” instead of “auxiliary node dissection (ANLD),” compared to 23% in 2009 and 6.1% in 1998. The shift away from ANLD is definitely good news. However, the fact that the trend is towards biopsy instead also comes with its own proven risks of increased tumor metastasis because of the “mechanical disruption of the tumor”.
This change from lymph node removal to biopsy also tells me that, although there is some progress being made, conventional medicine still has a long way to go before it recognizes that in order to heal cancer, one must get to the root or the cause of the cancer.
- Lymph Node Study Shakes Pillar of Breast Cancer Care
- Some Women May Not Need More Extensive Lymph Node Surgery for Breast Cancer
- What is Lymphedema?