Mastectomy May Not Always Be The Superior Choice, Study Finds

For the 250,000 American women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer each year mastectomies are a very real probability. This complete surgical removal of the diseased breast is considered vital in many treatment plans. Researchers are finding, however, that breast-conserving therapy involving a lumpectomy combined with radiotherapy may offer more promising results.

A recent study involving nearly 40,000 women showed that the combination of lumpectomy and radiotherapy produced stronger outcomes for women than mastectomies alone. In fact, the risk of death after 10 years was lower in the lumpectomy group by 20 percent. The 10-year survival rate was also higher at 76.8 percent versus 59.7 percent. The study supports the idea that in some cases women may actually be better off undergoing less invasive surgery followed by a carefully dosed round of radiotherapy to ensure that cancer cells are killed off.

The exact role radiotherapy played in the most positive outcomes was not studied by researchers. Even so, they believe this added layer of therapy, designed to destroy cancer cells, did play a significant role.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer will find that mastectomies are often recommended to help ensure that cancer is effectively eradicated. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may also be suggested. Sparing the breast through the use of a lumpectomy is a possible option in some cases. The study found this option might be more widely acceptable, especially if the added component of radiotherapy is included in a treatment plan.

Breast cancer is one of the leading killers of American women. This disease, when detected early, is often highly treatable using a variety of different tools. If the benefits of lumpectomy and radiotherapy continue to stand up to scrutiny, this less invasive option might be more readily offered to women as a treatment option. Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are urged to discuss all treatment options, risks and benefits, with their healthcare providers. The best course of treatment action will depend on the unique case in question.

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