Saturday, March 03, 2007

Breast Cancer Surgery May Do Harm

Primum non nocere, or “first do no harm,” is an oft-repeated maxim of western medicine. But a paper by a Harvard Medical School (HMS) researcher presents new support for the possibility that breast cancer surgeons may be unintentionally doing just that. The paper, published in the International Journal of Surgery, hypothesizes that African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer because they are more likely to undergo surgery at a young age to remove cancerous tumors. That surgery may in fact exacerbate the cancer by unleashing agents into the body, inflaming previously dormant tumors elsewhere. “Sometimes surgery to remove a primary tumor can kick-start a dormant disease,” said Lecturer on Surgery Michael W. Retsky, the paper’s chief author. Doctors have long observed an increased likelihood of relapse among breast cancer patients in the two years after a tumor is surgically removed. In a 2005 paper, Retsky and his fellow researchers first proposed that surgery itself might be a cause of the relapse. In that paper, Retsky found that age was the decisive factor: pre-menopausal women were significantly more likely to experience relapses after surgery than post-menopausal women were. His new paper applies this theory to another apparent trend—the high mortality rates among African-American women afflicted with breast cancer. --Click the title of this post to read the full article from its source--

Labels: , , ,

/* WebRing Code */