Predicting Breast Cancer's Spread

New computerized tool helps doctors determine whether disease will metastasize

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 3, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A new computerized tool called a nomogram helps predict the chance that breast cancer will spread, says a study in the December issue of the Annals of Surgical Oncology.

The nomogram, which assesses a number of pathological features, was developed by researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. It helps doctors calculate the likelihood that breast cancer will spread beyond the sentinel lymph nodes under the arms.

This information is a key factor in determining whether a breast cancer patient is likely to benefit from additional surgery to remove all of the nodes.

In this study, researchers assessed the pathological features of the primary breast tumor and the sentinel lymph node metastasis of 702 breast cancer patients. The researchers used that information to develop nomogram calculations to predict the presence of additional cancer in the axillary lymph nodes in the breast cancer patients.

They concluded the nomogram predictions were accurate to within a few percentage points.

"This easy-to-use nomogram will allow patients and their physicians to obtain accurate estimates of a patient's risk for additional disease in the axillary lymph nodes, and can assist greatly in individualized decision-making regarding further treatment," lead author and breast cancer surgeon Dr. Kimberly Van Zee says in a prepared statement.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, news release, Dec. 3, 2003

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