Dr. Bill Nelson discusses recent breast cancer studies and new recommendations on end of life care from American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Listen to these topics discussed in the most recent Cancer News Podcast.

First, Nelson reviews recent findings from the New England Journal of Medicine on lymphedema and exercise. Removing lymph nodes during breast cancer surgery is part of staging and is used to find out the extent cancer spread.  Lymphedema is a side effect from lymph node removal.  Lymphedema can occur when drainage of tissue fluid in the breast becomes backed up due to the removal of the lymph nodes. Painful arm swelling may occur. Previously, women had been advised to avoid exercise when their lymph nodes have been removed, but this recent study suggests women can exercise without the worry of lymphedema.

The second study takes a look at sentinel lymph node biopsy (only removing lymph nodes cancer spreads to first) verses axillary lymph node dissection (removing all lymph node). Each study looked at overall outcomes.  The results found both procedures appearing to be more or less equivalent among certain types of patients. Nelson explains what makes a patient a good candidate for each procedure and why.

Finally, Nelson discusses the recent recommendations from the American Society of Clinical Oncology on terminating treatment and end-of-life care.  The recommendations explain that physicians need to talk to patients earlier regarding when to end cancer treatment and palliative care.  Nelson adds that physicians should have clear and informative discussions with patients on specific treatment options.  Patients should know the potential benefits of anti-cancer treatments, and other palliative treatments to improve quality of life.   It’s important to make sure patients’ informed preferences really drive their cancer care.

Play the Podcast

Program Notes
0:34 – New England Journal of Medicine’s study on Lymphedema and exercise
1:10 – What is a lymph node and why it needs biopsied
1:30 – Removing all lymph nodes (axillary lymph node dissection)
2:15 – Side effect of removing all lymph nodes – Lymphedema
2:40 – Study finding – Exercise is okay among women who have had lymph nodes removed
3:10 – Difference between sentinel lymph node and axillary lymph node dissection
3:20 – Sentinel lymph node biopsy, using color dye and scans to find cancer lymph nodes
4:10 – Overall outcomes of sentinel lymph node biopsy vs. axillary lymph node dissection
4:23 – Who’s a good candidate for sentinel lymph node biopsy vs. axillary lymph node dissection
5:36 – Recommendations by ASCO about terminating treatment and end of life care
7:43 – Experimental treatment near end of life care, when to have discussion with your physician
8:35 - END

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