“Our findings support the notion that less invasive treatment can provide superior survival to mastectomy in stage one or stage two breast cancer,” Dr. E. Shelley Hwang, the study’s lead researcher and chief breast surgeon at Duke Cancer Institute, told Mail Online. “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.”“They need to be aware that lumpectomy gives them excellent long-term outcomes,” Hwang told Discovery News.
In the article, the researchers emphasized that the value of lumpectomies may differ from patient to patient. For exam
ple, the procedure is not recommended for individuals who have had chest radiation in the past, patients who have specific genetic mutations, or who have large tumors or a number of tumors in one breast. Lumpectomies, however, were particularly beneficial for women over the age of 50 as well as patients whose tumors were sensitive to hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.“It’s good news in that a lot of women sometimes come in and feel that a mastectomy must be better than breast conservation,” explained Dr. Stephanie Bernik, Lenox Hill Hospitals’ chief of surgical oncology.
Experts note that the results could have been influenced by differences that were not accounted for, such as varying access to health care. One weakness of the study is that it could not provide information on the likelihood of cancer recurrence for patients who had lumpectomies. However, others say that despite these weaknesses, the study’s results are still helpful.“We welcome these significant findings, as we have known for some time that lumpectomy and radiotherapy is as effective as mastectomy for some women. These findings go further to suggest that lumpectomy with radiotherapy could be better than mastectomy in early stage invasive breast cancer,” said Sally Greenbook, a senior policy officer at the UK’s Breakthrough Breast Cancer organization.
“We know, through speaking to women with breast cancer every day, how difficult it is to choose between a mastectomy and a lumpectomy. This study provides further reassurance allowing women to be more confident when making this decision. More research is needed to confirm these results, and we urge anybody concerned to speak to their surgeon so they can make an informed decision, as every choice is personal,” Greenbook continued.
The findings of the study were recently featured in the journal Cancer.