For Young Breast Cancer Patients, Breast-Conserving
Therapy Appears Effective09/07/11
TUESDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Younger women with breast
cancer who undergo a lumpectomy to remove their tumor survive just
as long and aren't any more likely to have a recurrence than women
who opt for the more radical and disfiguring mastectomy, or removal
of the entire breast, two new studies report.
"These results will give young women with breast cancer some reassurance if they choose to have a lumpectomy," said Dr. Julliette Buckley, lead author of one of the studies, at a Tuesday news conference. "They can feel safe and secure in making the choice to keep their breast."
The findings, which were presented Tuesday ahead of the 2011
Breast Cancer Symposium in San Francisco, which starts Thursday,
relate specifically to women under the age of 40.
Women in this younger age group tend to be diagnosed at a later
stage than older women and seem also to have a higher rate of
recurrence, said Buckley, who is a breast surgery fellow at
Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Although it has been unclear if women who undergo a mastectomy
actually live longer, more women lately have been choosing this
procedure over a breast-conserving lumpectomy.
Buckley and her colleagues looked at medical records on 628
women aged 21 to 40 who had been diagnosed with up to stage III
breast cancer between 1996 and 2008.
Of the women undergoing lumpectomy, 7.34 percent had a local
recurrence versus 7.4 percent in women who had their whole breast
Survival rates were also similar in both groups, with about 93
percent of patients alive after five years and 87.2 percent alive
after 10 years.
The second group of researchers used U.S. National Cancer
Institute data on almost 15,000 patients aged 20 to 39 who had
early-stage breast cancer. Forty-five percent underwent
breast-conserving surgery while 55 percent had a mastectomy.
All patients in the breast-conserving lumpectomy group also
underwent radiation therapy, along with 17 percent of women who had
After adjusting for other factors, the investigators found
similar survival rates in both groups, and a second, smaller
analysis backed up this initial data: At five years, about 92
percent of women in each group were still alive. Those numbers
declined to about 83.5 percent after 10 years. At 15 years, the
numbers were 77 percent for lumpectomy and 79 percent for
mastectomy, according to a news release from the American Society
of Clinical Oncology.
"There was no difference based on the type of treatment they received," said study lead author Dr. Usama Mahmood.
Mahmood is a radiation oncology fellow at the University of
Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston but conducted the
research while a resident at the University of Maryland.
Although the surgical treatment for breast cancer may vary in
certain cases, researchers noted that, in general, women who get a
lumpectomy have the same survival rates as those getting a
"This serves as a reminder that women should be counseled regarding their treatment options and should not choose mastectomy based on the assumption of improved survival," Mahmood said.
Because these studies were to be presented at a medical meeting,
they should be considered preliminary until published in a
To learn more about breast cancer surgery, visit the
American Cancer Society.
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