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Lumpectomy Less Risky than Mastectomy for Breast Cancer Patients

Update Date: Jan 28, 2013 04:16 AM EST
breast cancer
A female patient who undergone a mastectomy on her right breast. (Photo : Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

For women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in its early stages, lumpectomy followed by radiation offers more survival chances than mastectomy, a recent study reveals.

The research was led by E. Shelley Hwang, M.D., MPH, chief of breast surgery at Duke Cancer Institute, and the analysis was published in the journal Cancer.

Lumpectomy is a preferred surgical procedure where the lump in the breast is removed; this lump is usually a benign tumor or breast cancer. The procedure is non-invasive as it involves the removal of minimal tissues. Mastectomy, on the other hand, involves the partial or complete removal of one or both the breasts surgically. This research also justified the decision of certain patients to undergo lumpectomy to preserve their breasts.

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In the research, data spanning 14 years was collected from the California Cancer Registry, which has detailed information on the result of the cancer. The researchers found that people opting for the less-invasive technique like lumpectomy have a higher survival rate than those opting for a mastectomy. This held true for patients from different age groups and also for those who were either hormone-resistant or sensitive.

For women who were 50 years or above and had been diagnosed with hormone-sensitive breast cancer, lumpectomy gave them 13 percent more survival chances from breast cancer and 19 percent more survival chances from any disease as compared to mastectomy.

"Our findings support the notion that less invasive treatment can provide superior survival to mastectomy in stage I or stage II breast cancer. Given the recent interest in mastectomy to treat early stage breast cancers, despite the research supporting lumpectomy, our study sought to further explore outcomes of breast-conserving treatments in the general population comparing outcomes between younger and older women," Hwang was quoted as saying in Medicalxpress.

"We found that lumpectomy plus radiation was an effective alternative to mastectomy for early stage disease, regardless of age or tumor type. Even patients we thought might benefit less from localized treatment, like younger patients with hormone-resistant disease, can remain confident in lumpectomy as an equivalent and possibly better treatment option," Hwang added.

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