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Younger Women With Breast Cancer Face Added Peril

Disease is more aggressive, requiring more radical treatments, study suggests

FRIDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- The risk of breast cancer re-occurring is greater in women younger than 35 than it is in older women, especially if they opt for less radical treatment for the disease, a new study says.

In analyzing treatment of 652 breast cancer patients over three decades, researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston found that younger women had a better chance of avoiding a return of the disease if they had a mastectomy with adjuvant radiation rather than breast-conserving therapy or mastectomy alone. The findings were similar regardless of how advanced the cancer was.

The study was published in the March 1 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics.

"Locoregional recurrence after optimal breast cancer treatment in young women remains a significant problem," the study's lead author, Dr. Beth Beadle, a resident at M.D. Anderson, said in an American Society for Radiation Oncology news release. "Our study hopefully will help radiation oncologists plan therapies for younger breast cancer patients, who have inferior outcomes compared to older patients, and generate new interest in prospective studies to evaluate the best treatment strategies for these young women."

The researchers speculated that the reason younger women fare worse than older women with breast cancer is that the disease is biologically more aggressive in younger women.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about cancer treatments.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Society for Radiation Oncology, news release, March 4, 2009

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