A major part of my education at Bastyr University has involved discussion on the importance of the lymphatic system and how it plays a crucial role in our on-going immunity and our defense against invading pathogens. I’ve developed a fascination with these little highways that run through my body carrying out pathogens and defending all of my inner workings. My body has its own intuitive mechanism that keeps my vital force strong.
My weekly reading lead me to a new study regarding breast cancer patients and lymph node removal. In the past, it has been routine to remove auxillary lymph nodes in breast cancer patients to prevent spread of the cancer or recurrence of the cancer. A new study has found that women who undergo chemotherapy for early breast cancer are not eliminating any risk of recurrence by removing the lymph nodes. Instead, they are at risk for complications and infections like lymphedema.
Although the Allopathic community is equipped with studies that support this idea, they are slow to change their long-standing practice of lymph node removal. Dr. Monica Morrow, chief of breast services at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and head of the study, notes that this is considered a “radical” change amongst doctors because the belief in removing nodes is so deeply ingrained. Changing this protocol would affect 20% of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year – an estimated 40,000 women in the United States alone.
The study does stipulate that women must fit certain criteria in the progression of their cancer to be considered, however, my concern lies with the resistance of doctors to change their methods. As a medical student and future health care practitioner, I immediately think of the principle: First do no harm. This is a commonality shared in every medical community. Health practitioners have been given empirical evidence to support this idea of using the path of least force, and yet there is wide spread resistance based on old protocols and outdated information.
Resistance should have a different form it healthcare; it shouldn’t be our doctors resisting a less invasive protocol, it should refer to our bodies resisting a treatment or a bacteria that is resistant to a remedy. This time, the resistance comes from the caretaker and this is counterintuitive if our goal is optimum health.
New York Times