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Breast cancer patients with bilateral mastectomy don't have better survival rates
Date:9/2/2014

Breast cancer patients treated with lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy survived as long as patients who had bilateral mastectomy, according to a large study conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Cancer Prevention Institute of California.

The comprehensive analysis of nearly 190,000 California women with the disease is the first to directly compare survival rates following the three most common surgical interventions: bilateral mastectomy (the removal of both breasts), unilateral mastectomy (the removal of the affected breast), and lumpectomy (the selective removal of cancerous tissue within the breast) plus radiation. Women in the study were diagnosed between 1998 and 2011 with cancer in one breast.

The study will be published on Sept. 2 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers sought to understand why increasing numbers of women are choosing bilateral mastectomies after a diagnosis of cancer in just one breast. The study found that, in 2011, as many as 12 percent of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients opted for a bilateral mastectomy, despite uncertainty as to whether this approach was better than the alternatives. This study dispels much of that uncertainty.

"We can now say that the average breast cancer patient who has bilateral mastectomy will have no better survival than the average patient who has lumpectomy plus radiation," said Allison Kurian, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and of health research and policy at Stanford. "Furthermore, a mastectomy is a major procedure that can require significant recovery time and may entail breast reconstruction, whereas a lumpectomy is much less invasive with a shorter recovery period."

The study did find, however, a slightly lower survival rate among women who underwent a unilateral mastectomy.

Kurian is the lead author of the study. Scarlett Gomez, PhD, a research scienti
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Contact: Krista Conger
kristac@stanford.edu
650-725-5371
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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