In a nutshell
The authors aimed to determine if there was a significant risk of cancer recurrence when breast-conserving therapy is the only treatment for women aged 55 and older.
A lumpectomy or 'breast-conserving therapy' is the removal of the breast and some surrounding tissues (the breast remains intact). This is usually followed by a course of radiation to the area previously affected by the tumor to ensure complete removal of all cancer cells. However, the question of whether whole-breast radiation is mandatory for all breast cancer patients following surgery remains controversial.
Methods & findings
The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of radiotherapy after breast-conserving surgery, particularly in women over the age of 55. This was evaluated by looking at the rates of breast cancer recurrence (return of the cancer).
A total of 749 women were evaluated; 373 women were allocated to breast-conserving therapy followed by radiotherapy and 376 women were allocated to breast-conserving therapy only. All of these women were aged 55 to 75.
Overall, there was no significant difference in the rates of cancer recurrence between the two treatment groups. At a 9 year follow-up with patients, cancer recurrence was seen in 2% of the women who were treated by both surgery and radiation and in 2% of the women treated with surgery only. 7% of patients in each group developed distant metastasis (cancer returned at distant sites).
The bottom line
The authors concluded that there was no significant difference in the rates of recurring cancer between treatment by radiotherapy after breast-conserving surgery and surgery only.
The fine print
This study was only conducted on women over the age of 55.
Discuss with your doctor if surgery followed by radiation is relevant to your case.
Published By :
Annals of Surgical Oncology
Feb 01, 2014
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