Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lymphatic tissue removal

This portion of the Britannica's article on Therapeutics / Surgical Extirpation sounds relevant to people who are about to undergo the removal of a great deal of lymphatic tissue in relation to the treatment of a tumour.

Surgical therapy » Major categories of surgery » Surgical extirpation
Extirpation is the complete removal or eradication of an organ or tissue and is a term usually used in cancer treatment or in the treatment of otherwise diseased or infected organs. The aim is to completely remove all cancerous tissue, which usually involves removing the visible tumour plus adjacent tissue that may contain microscopic extensions of the tumour. Excising a rim of adjacent, seemingly normal tissue ensures a complete cure unless there has been extension through the lymphatic system, which is the primary route for cancer to spread. For this reason, local lymph nodes are often removed with the tumour. Pathological examination of the nodes will show whether the cancer has spread. This indicates the likelihood of cure and whether additional treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy is needed. If complete removal of a tumour is not possible, palliative surgery, which provides relief but is not a cure, may be useful to relieve pain or pressure on adjacent structures. Radical surgery may not always be best, as in the early stages of breast cancer. Removal of the entire breast and surrounding structures, including the axillary lymph nodes, has been shown to provide no greater benefit than alumpectomy (removal of the tumour only) followed by radiation to the area in early stages of breast cancer, while it often causes the patient increased psychological distress. However, because of improvements in breast reconstruction techniques, the trauma of a radical mastectomy is becoming less severe.
My emphasis in bold
"therapeutics." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 19 Mar. 2009 <>.

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