Friday, October 9, 2009
Medical Reports: Tracking Breast Cancer
For many patients, the key to stopping breast cancer is removing lymph nodes where cancer has spread, but finding those cancerous nodes can be a painful process. Seven's Diana Diaz has more on how doctors are finding ways to the pain out of the procedure.
WSVN -- Carolyn Senegal and Brenda Savoy are coping with breast cancer.
Brenda Savoy: "I got very depressed and cried for about two weeks, and then after that I got strong."
Breast cancer often spreads to the lymph nodes, so most women have to undergo a painful test to make sure their cancer hasn't spread.
Brenda Savoy: "The injection was very, very painful and very uncomfortable."
And in some cases women avoided a second test when their cancer came back.
Dr. Eugene Woltering: "You can't have something be that painful and have women want to come back and do this again if they have another lump ever again."
So Doctor Eugene Woltering developed another option where the lymph nodes can be tested while the patient is under anesthesia. That way there is no pain when a new radioactive blue dye is injected into the lymph node area.
Dr. Eugene Woltering: "And when we get to the hot lymph node it makes a sound. It sounds something like this..."
During the surgery, the dye lights up hard-to-see lymph nodes that are likely to be cancerous.
Dr. William Harkrider: "The lymph nodes define the spread of the tumor. They help stage the tumor."
Studies show the new dye is working just as well as the older version minus the pain. Now Carolyn and Brenda have one more thing in common, after months of treatment they're both cancer-free.
Diana Diaz: "Another benefit with the new dye doctors and their medical teams are not exposed to as much radiation.
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Louisiana State University Health Sciences
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