Breast Conserving Therapy vs. Mastectomy?

Are cancer patients listening to the media more than their own doctors? Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy is not the right choice for most woman.

Are cancer patients listening to the media more than their own doctors? Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy is not the right choice for most woman.

The past year America has been overwhelmed by the race for the Presidency.  Every day we hear speeches from the Presidential candidates.  The next day we hear from the “fact-checkers” who disprove a lot of the candidates’ claims.  But do facts really make a difference anymore?

That’s the question I have been asking for the past 25 years about lumpectomy and radiation therapy(breast conserving therapy) for early stage breast cancer patients.  Do the facts really make a difference anymore in a country where more and more early stage breast cancer patients undergo mastectomy?

Breast Conserving Therapy vs. Mastectomy

In a landmark study of 7,552 Dutch women with early-stage breast cancer (T1 N0), Dr. M.C. van Maaren and co-workers showed that women treated with lumpectomy and radiation therapy had a significantly better 10 year metastasis-free survival compared with those women treated with mastectomy.  Their study was published in the internationally prestigious journal Lancet Oncology, June 22, 2016 issue.

Are these new and surprising facts?  Not at all.  For the past 25 years, study after study-many with level I evidence, the best medical evidence-have shown that lumpectomy and radiation therapy is at least equivalent to mastectomy in terms of breast cancer control and survival.  Yet the number of women undergoing mastectomy in America continues to increase.

Why Not Mastectomy?

Mastectomy has profound side effects, both physically and emotionally.  But the facts have shown for decades that breast conservation with lumpectomy and radiation therapy is just as good as mastectomy, if not better.  The new Dutch study confirms that it is better for those women with small breast cancers, less than 2 cm and without spread to the lymph nodes.

I believe it is by duty as a breast cancer specialist to make my patients aware of the facts, and not give in to the current, popular trends.

If you have any questions about your breast cancer, please feel free to call me, Dr. Edward Hughes, at 855 Dayton 1.  I have a ‘no excuses’ approach to cancer care, one that beings with the patient and ends with wellness for a better quality of life.

I have written about lumpectomy and radiation therapy being at least as good if not better than mastectomy in a number of my previous blogs. Learn more by reading posts on January 19, 2016October 13, 2015; and August 4, 2015.