A new study suggests a less invasive breast cancer surgery is just as effective as more extensive surgery for certain patients.  The sentinel procedure removes only the sentinel node: the first lymph node where the cancer would likely spread.

The standard approach has been to remove many more lymph nodes.  The study, being published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found survival rates were just as good with the less invasive sentinel procedure.
"With this new information in this new study it may mean we can avoid removing more nodes during the dissection on patients with minimal disease on sentinel nodes, so it's even less surgery for certain patients, so that's a good thing," Dr. Lon McCroskey with the Breast Cancer Center at St. Joseph Medical Center said.

The more invasive surgery has higher risks of infection and lymphedema.  Patients also like that the sentinel surgery has less recovery time since it's less invasive.

"It's less time recovery because you have less of a surgery site," patient Susan Grismore said. "I'm going back to work next Tuesday."

Grismore says her breast cancer was detected in a routine mammogram, a reminder to women how important it is to get screened regularly.