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Topic: African Americans and SNB

Forum: African Americans With Breast Cancer —

African Americans with breast cancer who want to connect.

Posted on: Mar 29, 2008 06:46PM - edited Mar 29, 2008 06:48PM by Binney4

Binney4 wrote:

Hello, all,

In my Web wanderings for lymphedema information I found this recent article. No surprises here, but something to be aware of as we come into contact with bc newbies who may not be aware of all their options. (The reporting, as usual, slides over the complexities of bc treatment and lymphedema realities, but...you get the idea.)

Be well!


Sentinel node biopsy and breast cancer
Friday, March 28, 2008 | 6:56 PM
By Dr. Jay Adlersberg

There is an important test to help women determine if breast cancer has spread. But it turns out that a lot of patients are never even offered the test.

The test can prevent a lifetime of problems after breast cancer surgery. It's called sentinel node biopsy. The American Cancer Society studied how much this test was used and who used it between 1998 and 2005. The report finds that some groups of women got tested less frequently than others.

Anne Grant and Ivis Febus-Sampayo are both breast cancer survivors and work at SHARE, a breast cancer support group. During their cancer surgeries, doctors took out lymph nodes from their armpits as well. The result for both was arm swelling called lymphedema, which elastic sleeves keep under control.

Anne's started right after her surgery. "I felt heat," she said. "I felt my arm and my side were heavy, and there was pain."
Both women had cancer before sentinel node biopsy was available, which might have spared them the lymphedema problem. Though sentinel node biopsy is standard now, the new report says some women are not getting it.

"Women of lower socio-economic class, women who do not have private insurance and women who were non-white were less likely to receive sentinel node biopsies," said Dr. Sharon Rosenbaum Smith, of St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy is done at the time of surgery to remove the cancerous lump. Doctors inject a dye in the breast area, which marks the sentinel node, the first in the chain under the arm. Surgeons remove and check that node for cancer cells. If none are found, the other nodes are left in place. If the node is cancerous, others are removed. If the sentinel node does not contain cancer cells, there's a 96 percent chance that the others will not have cancer cells.

It's not clear why certain groups of women don't get the biopsy. What is clear to Ivis is that women should have it now.

"It's something important that women can have the sentinel node biopsy," she said. "It's very important that every woman have that option."
The good news is that despite the discrepancy among the economic and ethnic groups in the study, the numbers of patients who got the test doubled during the time of the study.

For more information about breast cancer and the study, visit ShareCancerSupport.org and The American Cancer Society. SHARE can also be reached at 212-719-0364. The toll-free state ovarian hotline can be reached at 866-53-SHARE.


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Apr 5, 2008 03:30AM - edited Apr 5, 2008 03:34AM by lLinda

Hello Binny4,

Thanks for the great information---we need all we can get!!!

My cancer was Diag. in Nov. 1998--none of this was being done, I will say: not where I live.  I have been very blessed not to have had a lot of the side effects that went along with the surgery of lymph nodes.  The surgery with that lil drain tube was one of the worst--I am glad that it is possible for women not to have to go through that anymore, unless they know for sure they have found nodes that need to be removed. 

Thanks again.

Linda C

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Apr 5, 2008 12:08PM DWS43 wrote:

Great info.  Thank you for posting it.

I begged for a SNB back in 2004 right before my re-excision and my surgeon refused.  Her rationale was it was not necessary for DCIS.

Needless to say, when I had a recurrence of DCIS in 2007, I insisted on it during my mastectomy and my new surgeon agreed. 

Unfortunately sometimes you just have fight to get what you need.


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