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Fox Chase researchers identify risk factors for the spread of breast cancer to lymph nodes
Date:11/2/2010

SAN DIEGO, CA (November 1, 2010)Breast cancer, one of the most prevalent cancers in women, afflicts an additional 200,000 women each year and causes about 40,000 deaths annually. The disease often extends to neighboring lymph nodes, in part, through lymphovascular invasion (LVI)a process in which cancer cells invade blood vessels or the lymphatic systemand can often translate into a poor prognosis for patients. Some scientists argue that evidence of LVI does not necessarily mean that the disease will recur in the lymph nodes after radiation to the breast alone, but research from Fox Chase Cancer Center now shows that the appearance of LVI in the breast tissue does in fact predict recurrence of breast in the regional lymph nodes.

By carefully examining recurrence patterns of thousands of women with breast cancer from records spanning more than 30 years, Wilhelm Lubbe, M.D.,Ph.D., chief resident in Fox Chase's Radiation Oncology Department, and his colleagues have now shown that the appearance of LVI in breast tissue predicts the future recurrence of cancer to nearby lymph nodes. "The microscopic diagnosis of LVI is challenging which highlights the importance of excellent pathologists," says Lubbe, who will present the results this week at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

Knowing that the disease is going to extend to neighboring lymph nodes, such as those in the armpit, is important prognostically. But it has still been unclear whether supplementary radiation therapy targeting these areas improves outcomes.

"There still is a lot of debate as to whether additional radiation to the regional lymph nodes is needed in a woman with LVI," Lubbe says.

In the study, Lubbe's team analyzed an extensive database of 3,082 breast cancer patients who underwent whole-breast radiation or minimal surgical resection of breast tissue between 1970 and 2009. This dataset, at least twice as large as many others
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Contact: Diana Quattrone
Diana.Quattrone@fccc.edu
215-728-7784
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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