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Those women who refuse mastectomy found more likely to survive

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (

Mastectomies are usually ordered in cases of breast cancer in the hopes that the invasive procedure will remove the cancerous tissue and stop the progression of the disease. Now, a major study says that mastectomies are not the best approach to the disease - and a far less invasive procedure has been found to more successful.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The study found that those older than 50 who only have the lump removed, followed by radiotherapy, are almost a fifth more likely to survive the illness than patients who lose the whole breast.

These are the results of a ten-year research project by academics. The procedure involves taking away the affected lump and then administering high doses of radiotherapy over a course of five or six weeks to ensure any the remaining malignant cells are killed.

Researchers from Duke University in North Carolina looked at the records of 112,154 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1994 and 2004. In the study, around 55 percent had breast conservation surgery and 44 percent had a mastectomy.

The study proved that women who had breast conservation surgery were 13 per cent more likely to survive the illness. But the results were even more promising in women over 50 whose survival odds were 19 percent higher than those who had mastectomies.

The study also discovered that women of all ages who had breast conservation surgery were a fifth less likely to die from other causes such as heart disease.

However, it must be noted that the study only examined women diagnosed with early breast cancer, known as stages one or two. The study did not include patients with advanced forms of the illness.

Experts now believe that radiotherapy may be far more effective at killing all cancerous cells than removing the entire breast.

"Our findings support the notion that less invasive treatment can provide superior survival to mastectomy in stage one or stage two breast cancer," lead researcher Dr. E Shelley Hwang of the Duke Cancer Institute in North Carolina said.

"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."

"We welcome these significant findings, as we have known for some time that lumpectomy and radiotherapy is as effective as mastectomy for some women," Sally Greenbrook, senior policy officer at U.K. charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer said:

"These findings go further to suggest that lumpectomy with radiotherapy could be better than mastectomy in early stage invasive breast cancer," Greenbrook says.

Radiotherapy is given to women immediately after surgery and the course of treatment normally lasts five or six weeks. But many women are put off by the side effects which include chest pain, tiredness, and lowered immune system and heart problems.

2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.

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