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Certain Risk Factors May Point to Need for Radiation in Ductal Carcinoma Treatment

An estimated 60,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ in 2016 alone. For many of these women, breast cancer surgery may be required to prevent the development of more invasive and potentially deadly breast cancer. Radiation after surgery may also be advised, but researchers are narrowing down criteria to help doctors better decide when this extra step is required.

Since ductal carcinoma has a very high survival rate, about 98 percent at the 10-year mark, researchers have long been concerned about over-treatment in this non-invasive form of the disease. Radiation, although highly beneficial in some cases, simply may not be necessary in all. Since this additional treatment can bring its own share of complications and side effects, there has been a desire to determine just when its use might be best called for.

A recent study delved into the topic with researchers coming up with a specific set of factors that indicate the need to consider radiation after surgery. The study focused in on data related to more than 32,000 patients treated for ductal carcinoma. Of those patients, more than 20,000 received radiation after surgery and 11,000 had surgery alone. The mortality rates in both groups was quite low at the 10-year mark, 1.8 percent for those with radiation therapy and 2.1 percent for the group who underwent surgery only.

To help determine when radiation might prove beneficial, researchers looked at certain prognostic factors. These factors included the nuclear grade of the cancer, the tumor size and the patient’s age. It was discovered patients with a higher prognostic score experienced significant benefits from radiation. Those with lower scores, however, there was no significant difference in survival with or without radiation.

Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer should carefully discuss all treatment options with their healthcare providers. Radiation can provide an added boost in ductal carcinoma to help increase survival chances. This step, however, may not always be 100 percent necessary, researchers have found.

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