HEADLINE: BREAST CANCER TEST
ANCHOR LEAD: THE FDA HAS APPROVED A NEW TEST TO DETERMINE IF BREAST CANCER HAS SPREAD, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
A new molecular test has received FDA approval to help surgeons determine whether a woman’s breast cancer has spread into lymph nodes around the tumor. Whether spread has occurred has very important implications, including whether a large number of lymph nodes should be removed in what is called axillary node dissection. Ben Park, a breast cancer expert at Johns Hopkins, says this test has at least one apparent problem.
PARK: The problem is with this type of test is that if you have a false positive rate, meaning that they’re 10% let’s say of women test positive who don’t truly have evidence of disease in their lymph nodes you’ve just potentially also bought them an unnecessary axillary lymph node dissection, which the consequences of that are not trivial. ;17
Women who’ve had axillary node dissection can have problems with swelling in the arm and hand on the side of the body where surgery was performed. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.