"Breast cancer patients who received the combination of a nerve block with general anesthesia for their breast cancer surgery had less cancer recurrence and were three times less likely to die than those who received only general anesthesia, according to a study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2013 annual meeting. Additionally, patients who received the nerve block needed less opioid pain relief from drugs such as fentanyl and oxycodone.
“Surgery has long been the most effective treatment for solid cancer tumors,” said Palle S. Carlsson, M.D., Ph.D., of the Department of Anaesthesiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark. “However, it has been theorized that the long-term effect of anesthetic method, drugs used and the pain therapy applied after surgery can influence how the disease progresses – whether the cancer comes back or the patient dies.”
During cancer surgery, tumor cells released into the bloodstream can transfer from the original tumor area and implant in lymph nodes and other organs far from the primary tumor, according to Dr. Carlsson. The human immune system plays a major role in fighting these runaway cells; however, surgery and anesthesia weaken the immune system."
Via Susan Zager