In a nutshell
This study wanted to find out if removing the main tumor in women with cancer that has spread to other organs leads to greater survival than not removing the main tumor. The study found that the patients who had the surgery survived 47% longer than patients without the surgery.
Breast cancer can sometimes be caught quite late, resulting in the cancer already having spread by the time it is caught. Cancer that has spread is called metastasised cancer. Some studies have suggested that removing the main tumor in cancer that has spread could improve survival outcomes.
Methods & findings
There were 313 patients in this study. All of the patients were diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer which had spread. They all had a life expectancy of less than 6 months at the time of diagnosis. 188 patients had surgery to remove their main tumor, plus other treatment, while the remaining patients did not have surgery but did have other treatment. Patients were followed for an average of 25 months.
The patients who had surgery were more likely to have more than three sites where the cancer had spread. They also were more likely to have larger tumors. Overall, the patients who had the surgery survived for an average of 78 months, compared to 37 months in those who did not have surgery.
The bottom line
The study concluded that removal of the main tumor in patients with breast cancer that has spread results in better survival compared to not having surgery.
The fine print
This study was medium sized, so the results should be good. In studies like this, it is likely that the patients who have the more radical treatment (surgery) are probably at a more severe stage of cancer, and their doctors think they need more radical treatment. This is true for this study. Because the results are so good, even though the patients in the treatment group had more severe cancer, it means that the treatment works really well.
Speak to your doctor about your treatment plan.
Published By :
Sep 11, 2018
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