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Investigated in the axillary-specific treatment of breast cancer with lymph node metastases

KWF grants research support of €538,000

If breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit, extensive imaging studies and characterization of the tumor are done before surgical removal. The goal of the research conducted at Maastricht UMC+ is to clarify to what extent an accurate statement can be made about the potential response to preoperative chemotherapy. As a result, there may not always be a need for extensive armpit surgery in the future. KWF grants research support of €538,000.

In the Netherlands, one in seven women will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer during her lifetime. If there is an axillary lymph node metastasis at diagnosis, this has consequences for the treatment as well as for the patient’s prognosis. Currently, in the case of axillary lymph node metastases, treatment consists of chemotherapy followed by surgery. Previous research has shown that one in three patients no longer have armpit metastases after chemotherapy and that lymph nodes are surgically removed “unnecessarily”. The problem is that unnecessary resection of the gland can only be discovered then in the laboratory.

Until recently, axillary operation consisted of extensive removal of all lymph nodes in the armpit (axillary toilet). This process is accompanied by many additional complaints, such as lymphedema, which leads to the accumulation of fluid in the involved arm and restriction of movement. New surgical procedures allow for more selective surgeries, but at the present time it is not possible to make an accurate statement about the possible response of lymph node metastasis to chemotherapy prior to this operation. The research aims to accurately diagnose the condition of the lymph nodes before surgery.

Study support
The research project, awarded by the KWF Foundation in support of €538,000, aims to discover whether imaging studies (ultrasound, MRI and PET) and preoperative tumor characteristics can be used to make a more accurate statement about a patient’s lymph node. Tumor. According to research leader and nuclear radiologist Dr Thiemo van Nijnatten, this will make it easier to determine if and to what extent axillary surgery should be performed on these patients. “As such, this research project contributes to the improvement of an armpit treatment tailored to future patients.”

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Name of author and/or editor by: Maastricht UMC +
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original title: Research into personalized axillary therapy for breast cancer with lymph node metastases
the target audience: Healthcare professionals
Date: 2022-01-13