Medicine: Breast Cancer

A consensus that less is more

Some 90 years ago a Baltimore surgeon, Dr. William Halsted, devised the operation that soon became the standard treatment in the U.S. for breast cancer, a disease that now strikes 106,000 women and claims 34,000 lives a year. It is the radical mastectomy, which involves cutting away not only the breast but also the lymph nodes in the armpit, and underlying chest muscles. Yet with more breast cancer being detected at earlier stages, the trend has been away from disfiguring if often lifesaving "radicals." Still, 25,000 women a...

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