A new U.S. study examining survival rates for women with early stage breast cancer found that surgery such as lumpectomy that preserves the rest of the breast may offer survival odds as good as, or even better than, mastectomies.
Despite clinical trials showing lumpectomy, or removal of the cancer only, to be as effective as mastectomies in treating early breast cancers, the number of women choosing breast removal has been on the rise, wrote lead researcher E. Shelley Hwang in the journal Cancer.
‘Lumpectomy is enough’
“It was kind of an exciting and hopeful message that women don’t have to go off to get a mastectomy to do better,” said Hwang, from the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, North Carolina. “I think a lot of women were making that decision because they thought the lumpectomy was not enough. We wanted to know if lumpectomy works just as well as mastectomy in the modern era.”
For the study, they used data collected by the Cancer Prevention Institute of California on 112,154 women who were diagnosed with stage I or II breast cancer between 1990 and 2004.
The majority had a lumpectomy with radiation, and the rest had a mastectomy without radiation. The researchers then tracked the women’s health for an average of nine years. Overall, 31,425 women died by the time the study ended in 2009, and 39 percent of those deaths were due to breast cancer.
But the researchers found that the women who had a lumpectomy with radiation were more likely to survive than women who had a mastectomy, regardless of age or cancer subtype.