26. May 2021

University Hospital Basel takes over the leadership of one of the world's most important trials in breast cancer surgery

A surgical method developed in Switzerland that enables the targeted removal of cancerous lymph nodes in breast cancer patients is being investigated internationally as part of the TAXIS trial under the leadership of University Hospital Basel. The surgical method aims to reduce the side effects of surgical overtreatment and thus help to ensure a better quality of life for the patients affected.


The standard procedure for breast cancer patients with extensive lymph node involvement is surgery to remove many of the lymph nodes in the armpit area. However, this radical procedure does not distinguish between the lymph nodes affected by cancer and those not affected. As a result, many patients experience complications such as pain, changes in sensation, restricted movement of the shoulder, and lymphatic congestion (lymphoedema) after the operation.

Under the leadership of Prof Weber and the Oncoplastic Breast Consortium (OPBC), University Hospital Basel is taking over management of the international TAXIS trial with immediate effect. The trial is investigating whether the newly developed surgical procedure to treat breast cancer – where only those lymph nodes in the armpit that are affected are selectively and gently removed, and the patients are subsequently treated with targeted radiotherapy – is as safe and effective as the previous standard procedure and leads to the desired improvement in quality of life. The Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK), which has led the TAXIS trial to date, will continue to support the trial and work closely with University Hospital Basel.

Developed in Switzerland, the TAXIS trial is currently the world's most foremost study on reducing axillary surgery in patients with breast cancer. It has already recruited more than 400 of the 1,500 patients required at 44 breast centres in six countries and the is therefore on schedule. The results so far indicate that the innovative process is working very well. “Focused axillary surgery” will significantly shape the future of armpit surgery. In light of the fact that one in eight women worldwide develops breast cancer, this trial and the procedure it is investigating will make a significant contribution to saving many women around the world from the side effects of surgical overtreatment. The treatment option is already available to patients at University Hospital Basel as part of their participation in the trial.