Treatment for breast cancer has always followed the route of abundant caution – surgical removal of lymph nodes from the armpit area, radical mastectomies involving the removal of muscle and underlying lymph nodes of both breasts and so on.
It may be however, that such radical and extensive treatment for breast cancer is unnecessary and that it may even have devastating psychological and physical consequences and outweigh any possible benefits.
The view is now shifting on what is advisable and what is effective treatment for breast cancer. Often the extent of treatment outweighs the possible benefits – less extreme surgery may often be required for a given instance of cancer.
Lumpectomy (which removes only a small part of the breast) could suffice instead of a mastectomy (where the entire breast is removed) and this could mean adequate treatment that is also less disfiguring and less traumatic for the breast cancer sufferer.
Sometimes radiation and drugs are adequate forms of treatment and surgery could be avoided; however many oncologists have stuck to older outdated procedures.
It is the instinct of many medical practitioners to follow the most aggressive of treatments, even when such aggressive treatment is not required; or where it may actually cause a significant amount of damage.