Over the last 15 years, there have been big strides in the treatment of and recovery from breast cancer. Screening is even more available, digital mammography and MRIs give even better pictures of the breast, and more breast sparing surgeries are done.
"We have stopped doing those big massive surgeries where we were taking all the lymph nodes from the armpit, and we've moved into what’s called a sentinel lymph node,” explained Dr. Bilal Ansari of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center. “We see where the tumor is, we inject dye and remove lymph nodes, draining the tumor, and that way we can save the armpit and only remove the remaining lymph nodes if the first one is positive."
That means fewer women suffer from lymphodema in their arm.
Dr. Ansari says there are newer drugs that are more effective and better tolerated, and genetic testing is now available.
But the doctor says it still all hinges on early detection.