June 17, 2024
ER+ Breast Cancer

New Study Suggests De-escalating Surgery in Middle-aged Women with ER+ Breast Cancer May Be Safe

A recent study led by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center indicates that sentinel lymph node biopsy, a surgical procedure commonly used in breast cancer patients to detect cancer spread, may not be necessary for middle-aged women with estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. The team employed an innovative artificial intelligence pipeline developed by Realyze Intelligence, a UPMC Enterprises portfolio company, to analyze electronic health records.

The study’s results, published in JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics, propose that current clinical guidelines for de-escalating surgery in older women (above 70 years) with early-stage ER+ breast cancer could be safely extended to post-menopausal patients aged 55 and above.

“Our research contributes to the overall objective of shifting away from a one-size-fits-all approach to treating breast cancer,” said Neil Carleton, a graduate student in Pitt’s Medical Scientist Training Program and the study’s lead author. “Instead, our focus is on personalizing care to ensure that treatment is appropriate for each patient, which includes avoiding unnecessary surgeries when the benefits are minimal.”

Sentinel lymph node biopsy involves the removal of one or more lymph nodes that drain from a patient’s primary tumor. While this procedure is standard-of-care for breast cancer patients, it comes with risks, such as lymphedema, which is characterized by the buildup of lymphatic fluid, leading to swelling, discomfort, and mobility issues.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public Source, Desk Research
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