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Precancerous Breast Lesions Cause Unnecessary Worry
Date:2/12/2008

ine at Dartmouth Medical School and an expert on how well health care works for patients. Welch argued that as mammography continues to detect smaller and smaller DCIS lesions, there can be a tendency to over-treat. He recommends that the diagnostic threshold for DCIS be raised to doing biopsies on only lesions that measure 1 centimeter or greater in diameter.

"There is this ironic finding that women with this early precursor lesion may be treated more aggressively than women with invasive breast cancer," he said. "They may have mastectomies instead of just a lumpectomy. At some level we have to say, 'Does this really make sense?'"

Another study in the same issue of JNCI suggests that medical science is winning the war on breast cancer. The research, which involved nearly 5,000 breast cancer patients, was led by the National Cancer Institute of Canada's Clinical Trials Group. A total of 256 of the participants died during the four-year study.

The researchers found that older women who had survived for at least five years after a diagnosis of early stage breast cancer were most likely to die of causes unrelated to their breast malignancy. In fact, 60 percent of these deaths were not caused by breast cancer, the Canadian team found.

More information

For more on DCIS, head to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.



SOURCES: Ann Partridge M.D., MPH, oncologist, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham & Women's Hospital, and assistant professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, all in Boston; Michael Stefanek, Ph.D., vice president, behavioral research, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., MPH, Veterans Affairs Outcomes Group, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, White River Junction, Vt., and professor, medicine, Dartmouth Med
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