Pioneering surgical technique for treatment of breast cancer

Women in Britain with breast cancer will soon benefit from a pioneering surgical technique developed by Professor Robert Mansel and his team at Cardiff University, Wales College of Medicine in the UK.

Professor Mansel of the University's Department of Surgery will tomorrow (Oct. 28) launch the 'New Start' training programme jointly devised with the Royal College of Surgeons. The programme rapidly aims to bring the benefits of the new procedure to women throughout England and Wales by ensuring all surgeons are trained in the technique to a high standard.

Professor Mansel said: "The latest results of the UK 'Almanac' trial – to be presented in the USA in December – show that our new procedure can accurately determine whether cancer has spread to lymph nodes, and reduces the side-effects of breast surgery in around 60% of women with breast cancer. The procedure gives much lower rates of arm swelling and numbness compared with current treatments." The new training programme is the result of research co-ordinated by Professor Mansel and his clinical colleagues which found that it is unnecessary in two-thirds of cases to remove all the lymph nodes from under the arm when it is suspected that breast cancer has spread. The old clearance procedure itself is painful and can result in loss of arm movement and arm swelling.

The new technique developed in Cardiff after three years of research across Wales and England means that the main gland - the sentinel node - can now be traced using a small dose of radioactivity to find out whether the cancer has spread. Women found not to have cancer spread, will no longer have to have such invasive surgery 'just in case' of cancer spread.

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