Seven years is a long time to stew over this problem, especially since swelling of the arm is not uncommon after some forms of surgery for breast cancer. It is a responsibility of the surgeon before surgery to inform a patient about possible complications following surgery, but I SWPMMQ doubt whether any of you would be in a position to recall accurately afiPr what was said and what was not said seven years ago. bmmst Rather than exclusively thinking in terms of lawyers, you might do sumwn’ well to explore with your mother's surgeon, and/or various self—help, post—mastectomy groups, such as Reach for Recovery, the considerable techniques available for relieving this complication.

You recently wrote, "Even when surgery definitely seems indicated, as

in the case of breast cancer..." and you then go on to describe four kinds of surgery, including the now—outmoded radical.

I hope in the future you'll also tell your readers about the viable

option of surgical biopsy of tumor with radiation as primary treatment. ——Jory Graham

I am happy that you wrote me and included a number of your excellent articles from the Chicago Sun—Times.

Radical surgery has always been my least favorite treatment for breast cancer, and I am convinced that future generations will look back

Hadmnbn on radical mastectomy with the same horror that we "moderns" regard the

andcnher bloodletting of George Washington's day.

thmapkw In a book entitled "Conquering Cancer" (Random House, $10), Lucien Israel, M.D., one of France's outstanding cancer researchers, says "It is truly remarkable that in spite of increasingly early diagnosis and the almost universal application of post-operative radiotherapy, a majority of surgeons throughout the world persist in performing an operation that is so mutilating."

Dr. Israel questions the logic of removal of involved lymph nodes: "A breast cancer sends cells into the lymph nodes of the armpit. The lymph nodes are therefore systematically removed. If they are 'negative,' the postoperative prognosis is better than if they are positive, and everyone leaves it at that. Yet we know that it is in the lymph nodes that the macrophages and the lymphocytes receive and exploit the antigenic information that will lead to specific immunity. Would it not be better to leave the lymph nodes intact?"

He further argues: ". . .the common sense of the French surgeons seems to be far preferable to the pioneering attitude of certain special- ized American surgeons."

Again contrasting French with American surgery, Israel says, "In the United States I have seen abdominal surgery performed which was so extensive that it was not so much a therapeutic act as an acrobatic feat on the part of the surgeon and such that I personally would prefer not to survive rather than to survive in such a condition."

The United States certainly has no monopoly on medical wisdom. Sulfonamides came from Germany; the dangers of The Pill were first pub- lished in British medical journals. And now a French doctor has given advice on the treatment of cancer that is must reading for all Americans —-physicians and patients alike.

I have heard that breastfeeding your baby can help prevent breast cancer. Is this true?——R.F.