The article “Less Invasive Lymph Node Biopsy Method Could Spare Thousands Unnecessary Operations” discusses a new technique known as ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration cytology (US-FNAC), which has been developed by a team of medical scientists led by Dr. Christine Voit, director of the diagnostic unit at the Skin Cancer Center at the Medical University of Berlin, Germany.
This technique, which employs an ultrasound-directed fine needle to biopsy lymph nodes, could offer to relieve to thousands of melanoma patients who often have to endure needless and at times unbearable surgery to authenticate whether their cancer has spread to other regions (European Cancer Conference para. 1). The US-FNAC technique could indeed introduce a new dimension in the detection of melanoma judging by the positive outcomes it demonstrated in a comprehensive study done on 590 patients with newly diagnosed melanoma to test the accuracy of the technique.
Findings of the study revealed that the fine needle aspiration technique was able to accurately detect “…tumor cells in the lymph node of half of the patients who were later shown to have node-positive disease through the surgical sentinel node biopsy procedure” (European Cancer Conference para. 4). It is imperative to note that the technique was not only able to record a false positive rate of one percent, but the sentinel node technique found diminutive tumor deposits in patients whose condition was not detected by the US-FNAC.
This implies that the new technique was able to rightly classify almost all patients with healthy lymph nodes. What’s more, this new procedure does not occasion adverse reactions witnessed in other traditional procedures such as sentinel node biopsy (European Cancer Conference, para. 6).
The Old Way
One of the traditional procedures that have been in use involves the surgical removal of the entire lymph tissue from the section that ‘drains the site of the tumor,’ a process that is largely perceived as painful, invasive, and may trigger adverse reactions. Another technique that has been largely viewed as an improvement of the above procedure involves the excision of one or two key lymph nodes to examine any traces of cancer.
The latter procedure is called the sentinel node technique and has been negatively evaluated for contributing to more pain for patients who may not be suffering from cancer. As a matter of fact, only 20 percent of patients who undergo this procedure have cancer that has extended into the sentinel nodes, implying that the technique is needless for 80 percent of the patients (European Cancer Conference para. 6).
It is imperative to note that the sentinel node technique is associated with several adverse reactions, including chronic swelling and seroma. Owing to the accuracy of the new technique, it is now recommended that physicians should perform the fine needle aspiration procedure on the patients before automatically deciding to excise sentinel lymph nodes for examination to lessen the need for unnecessary and sometimes painful sentinel node operations
Where are we going?
The future is needed bright for patients suspected of having various types of cancers affecting the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. The US-FNAC procedure provides a better way of detecting cancer using less painful and less invasive means. The new technique will also provide a framework through which patients who need their lymph nodes excised and those who don’t can be separated with the aim to avoid any chance of subjecting patients to painful and unnecessary surgical procedures (European Cancer Conference para. 7).
This is bound to not only improve the quality of life of patients but also ensure that accurate diagnosis is reached and effective treatment regimes are started to save lives. The discovery will also have positive cost implications for patients who were planning to use huge sums of money to undergo operations which, according to the article, are largely unnecessary.
Location of Article
The article was published in the Science Daily, and a URL link has been given below for easy accessibility.
European Cancer Conference. (2007). Less Invasive Lymph Node Biopsy Method Could Spare Thousands unnecessary Operations. Science Daily. Web.