Researchers at Northwestern University in the United States have found that small, local hospitals check fewer lymph nodes for possible metastases of pancreatic and gastric cancer than larger, more central hospitals. The standard medical practice at larger hospitals is to check 15 regional lymph nodes for the presence of cancer. Maybe doctors have less time and resources to dedicate to a thorough check, leading to a potential misdiagnosis of being cancer free. Lymph nodes are a sort of cancer super highway; once tumor cells have spread to nodes, it quickly invades other areas of the body, underlining the importance for checking all 15 lymph nodes.
It is vitally important to carefully check for remaining malignant cells after treatment for pancreatic cancer because the 5 year survival rate is less than 5% and most people die within the first 3 to 6 months of diagnosis! What can Americans do about this? If able, try to get treatment at a larger hospital that performs more tumor removal surgeries and is more experienced in post surgical follow up. Barring this, ask that your doctor check all 15 local lymph nodes after being treated for pancreatic or gastric cancer.
A full version of the original press release can be found at Eureka Alert!
The original research was done at Northwestern University.