40 Years Later, Relearning That Sometimes Less Is More in Breast Cancer

“40 Years Later, Relearning That Sometimes Less Is More in Breast Cancer.” By Karuna Jaggar, Let Life Happen.

Forty years ago, the radical Halsted mastectomy was the standard treatment of the day for any breast cancer diagnosis. Surgeons removed a woman’s cancerous breast as well as underarm lymph nodes and the chest wall muscles — often before a woman even knew she had cancer, as part of the surgery that included the diagnostic biopsy. A woman went in to see if she had cancer, and came out of her anesthesia missing body parts. Women’s health activists, like Rose Kushner, fought for evidence-based information with which to make their individual treatment decisions: They wanted breast cancer treatment that worked, and they wanted to minimize the harm of treatment. This is an important balance we continue to seek.

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