Women who undergo breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy for breast cancer are more likely to survive the disease than those who receive a full mastectomy, a study published Wednesday by JAMA Surgery found.
According to the results, those who received radiation plus breast-conserving surgery, in which only the cancerous tumour was removed and all healthy tissue in the breast was retained, had a five-year survival rate of more than 95 percent.
Furthermore, the researchers reported that 87 percent of these patients were still alive 10 years after treatment.
According to the researchers, women who received radiation treatment and a complete mastectomy, in which the entire breast is removed, had a five-year survival rate of 86 percent and a 10-year survival rate of 72 percent.
Eighty-five percent of those who had a full mastectomy alone, with no radiation therapy, survived for five years after treatment and 67% were alive 10 years later.
“If there are no specific … reasons for taking the whole breast, conserving the [woman’s] own breast and giving them radiotherapy afterward is clearly the recommended choice,” study co-author Dr. Jana de Boniface told UPI in an email.
“There are no survival gains [achieved] by performing more surgery than necessary,” said de Boniface, an associate professor of surgery at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
Breast-conserving surgery has been the treatment of choice for breast cancer in recent years, owing to research evidence indicating that it is just as successful, if not more, at addressing the condition, she added.
According to the American Cancer Society, mastectomy is also practised in women who are known to be at high risk of cancer recurrence.
De Boniface and her colleagues compared the therapies in about 49,000 women in Sweden for their research, with just over 29,000 of them undergoing breast conserving surgery plus radiation therapy.
The remaining patients underwent either a mastectomy with radiation therapy or a mastectomy alone.
According to the data, fewer than 2% of women who had breast-conserving surgery plus radiation therapy died from breast cancer within five years of treatment, and fewer than 4% died within ten years.
Meanwhile, nearly 10% of women who had a mastectomy and radiation treatment died from breast cancer within five years, and nearly 16% died within ten years.
“If technically feasible — and oncoplastic techniques give us a lot more options to conserve the breast — breast-conserving surgery is in many ways the better choice, except for women with significant hereditary risk [for recurrence],” de Boniface said.