A new study by Duke University claims that women with early stage breast cancer who are treated with lumpectomy and radiation have better survival rates than those who opt for a mastectomy. CBS Minnesota reported the results of Duke University’s study on Jan. 28, 2013. All prior studies show that there is no difference in survival rates between the two procedures.
Lumpectomy vs. Mastectomy
A lumpectomy is when only the breast cancer tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue are removed. This procedure is almost always followed up with a course of radiation therapy.
A mastectomy removes the entire breast, leaving little to no breast tissue behind. A mastectomy may be followed by chemotherapy or radiation or no treatment at all—depending on tumor size, tumor grade and whether or not the cancer is in the lymph system.
Over the past 10 years, many breast cancer patients opted for a mastectomy over a lumpectomy. This is especially true for younger patients. This new study may reverse current trends.
Why choose mastectomy
Freya Schnabel of NYU Langone Medical Center says that she thinks patients opt for mastectomy because they feel that a bigger operation means better treatment.
This is not always the case, sometimes women are not given all of the information they need to make an informed choice. Many surgeons make a recommendation based on their opinion and women do not question a doctor’s recommendation.
This is a conversation that all breast cancer patients must have with their surgeons. There are no cut and dry parameters which say when a lumpectomy is better than a mastectomy. In late stage, aggressive cancers, women may not have a choice. Early stage cancers with large aggressive tumors may not be candidates for lumpectomy. The best thing a woman with breast cancer can do to for herself is to be armed with information. Ask questions about any surgical procedure. Doing so will help you get the best treatment plan possible.