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Excessive Lymph Node Removal Unnecessary

February 11, 2011, 6:00 PM by Kelli Grant

Excessive Lymph Node Removal Unnecessary
SIOUX FALLS, SD - When someone's diagnosed with cancer, getting rid of the disease, all of the disease, becomes the top priority

But new research found that for some women fighting breast cancer, removing additional lymph nodes has no advantage. It's a surgery one KELOLAND woman says she wouldn't have gone without.

In August it will be four years since Odena Koth learned she had a very aggressive form of breast cancer. “A lot of it's fuzzy right now because it happened so fast. And I was just thankful everything fell into place, Koth said.

After four rounds of chemotherapy, she had both breasts removed and more than 20 lymph nodes taken from under both arms.

Koth was afraid without that surgery, the cancer would come back. “For me, in my diagnosis, being a late stage, I would have been fearful,” Koth said.

But new research shows that removing lymph nodes under the arm does not change the treatment plan, improve survival or make the cancer less likely to occur.

It's news that's turning the medical practice on its head. But it's research Koth's surgeon agrees with.

“If you don't have to do it, it's better not to do it. If it's gonna make a difference in your treatment or improve your cancer, you certainly wanna remove them,”Sanford Health Surgeon Dr. Don Graham said.

The research, paid for by the National Cancer Institute, suggests that removing the cancerous lymph nodes is unnecessary because the women in the study had chemotherapy and radiation, which would likely wipe out the disease.

But Koth already went through 4 rounds of chemo. “Since I had already done chemo I was kind of hoping that I wouldn't have to have to have more, “ Koth said.

Today, Koth is cancer free. She credits the surgery. “Absolutely in her case, there was no question, she needed those lymph nodes removed,” Koth's surgeon Dr. Don Graham said.

And her doctors. “My confidence is in my doctors. And I really feel like they know and they've seen so much,” Koth said.

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