Tiniest tumors may spread breast cancer

August 12, 2009 For years, doctors and patients have struggled with what to do about a microscopic tumor or stray cancer cell in a lymph node. These isolated tumor cells are not normally treated as a major threat.

But research in the "New England Journal of Medicine now finds patients with even the smallest spread have a much higher risk of the cancer recurring years later.

The study suggests these patients may need more treatment than just surgery, including chemotherapy and estrogen blocking drugs.

Women with these micro-tumors who were given additional treatment had a 43 percent lower risk of the cancer returning compared to women who only had surgery.

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