Women with early-stage breast cancer who undergo a lumpectomy in combination with radiation therapy may have a better chance of survival than those who choose mastectomy, according to a study published online in Cancer.
According to researchers from Duke University Cancer Institute, patients diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer commonly undergo a lumpectomy, or surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue, followed by radiation therapy. However, more patients are choosing mastectomy, surgery to remove the entire breast, perhaps because of the perception that mastectomy is more effective at eliminating early-stage cancer.
To compare the effectiveness of both treatment options, researchers analyzed the medical records of 112,154 women in California who were diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer between 1990 and 2004. The study also looked at whether factors like age, size of the tumor and aggressiveness of the cancer affected survival rates.
The study showed that women 50 years or older who had tumors that were sensitive to the hormones estrogen and progesterone showed the biggest benefit from lumpectomy. This group was 13 percent less likely to die from breast cancer and 19 percent less likely to die from any cause compared with those undergoing a mastectomy.
However, the study showed that women younger than 50 with hormone-sensitive tumors had the same survival rate whether they received a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.
Study authors said the data provides evidence that a lumpectomy plus radiation therapy is an effective alternative to mastectomy for women with early-stage breast cancer, regardless of age or cancer type. However, researchers caution that all factors should be considered before patients with early-stage breast cancer decide on a particular treatment plan.