theories on the spread of breast cancer

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The first key theory on the spread of breast cancer was proposed by Halsted. He suggested that breast cancer cells spread from the primary tumour in a sequential manner to regional nodes. His theory - see submenu - was the reason for undertaking radical resections of the regional lymphatic field.

However, an alternative 'embolization' theory is now favoured. This proposes that the primary tumour cells embolize both regionally and systemically at the same time. This would explain, for example, why radical operations have no influence on survival. This theory has been one of the driving influences to more conservative surgical treatments.

Last reviewed 01/2018