Your Chance of Surviving Breast Cancer May Actually Drop If You Get a Mastectomy

This Just In 9

breast cancerThis might be the most important thing you read all day. While many of us believe that a mastectomy is a more effective long-term treatment for breast cancer than a lumpectomy, the latest study shows the opposite is actually true: Researchers from Duke Cancer Institute found that women with stage one or two breast cancer who had a lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy instead of a mastectomy were 13% more likely to survive the disease (women over age 50 were 19% more likely to survive). Whoa.

Of course it seems like medical research is always finding new, often contradictory information on the best way to treat and avoid diseases, so I tend to take whatever "the latest study shows" with a grain of salt. But in this case, the "latest study" followed over 100,000 women for a span of 10 years.

"Our findings support the notion that less invasive treatment can provide superior survival to mastectomy in stage one or stage two breast cancer. Given the recent interest in mastectomy to treat early stage breast cancers, despite the research supporting lumpectomy, our study sought to further explore outcomes of breast-conserving treatments in the general population comparing outcomes between younger and older women," says lead researcher, Dr E. Shelley Hwang.

That's a significant amount of research! And significantly positive findings (although I'm not sure how I would feel about these results if I were a breast cancer survivor who'd already had a mastectomy).

What's your reaction to these findings?


Image via Tips Time/Flickr

breasts, cancer


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nonmember avatar SA

If the women choose what to do and were not randomly assigned to one group or the other, you cannot conclude anything. Correlation does not equal causation. What factors did they control for?

nonmember avatar Beth

I read the title to this article over and over "Your Chance of Surviving Breast Cancer May Actually Increase If You Get a Mastectomy" and it confuses me. Did you mean "Your chance of survival may DECREASE if you have a mastectomy"? It's interesting that this article came out today because my mom just had a consultation today with her oncologist for treating her breast cancer and the doc said that some women electively chose a full mastectomy (even if not necessary) just to avoid radiation. My mom, however, is choosing to just get a lumpectomy, followed by radiation at this point.

Terrilee Compton Royce

It would be nice if there was some information that accompanied this article to confirm/negate this information. This article read like opinion rather than medical fact. Women who have had cancer/mastecomys have been thru enough without reading an article like this that has no accompnaning facts. And Beth, I do not think the choice is to avoid the radiation, but to avoid the reoccurance of cancer and to save our lives.

Karen Sais

you cannot generalize when it comes to breast cancer regardless of the stage. I was only a stage 1A, but I sought two opinions and both concurred that based on the MRI and where the cancer was, it was most prudent to have a mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy. I put my faith in the doctors and God.

Gloria Sumner

my mom had 2 lumpectomies radiation and a mastectomy and it gave her more time by at least 3 yrs and 2 weeks for what breast cancer she had. but now she is gone from us. from pancreatic cancer that she had gotten later on after her breast cancer.

Kemie Styles Brown-Vansant

I think it unfair to publish something like this. Perhaps only doctors should have this information and offer the findings when women are making the decision to have a mastectomy. I elected to have double mastectomies with stage 1a and stage 0 cancer. My surgeon told me that now my chances of a recurrance was less than 1%. I took it. I am now 3 years out and cancer free. Don't make me doubt my decision and wonder when it is going to hit again. I believe my doctor.

nonmember avatar Tammy Waymaster

Every women and her doctor need to decide what is best for her. The article never says what is the cause of the cancer.(If the women are estrogen, progesterone or triple negative breast cancer.)I chose a bi-lateral mastectomy because I was estrogen positive and not yet menopausal.I would rather lose a breast then get the cancer back and probably in the other breast too.I didn't get radiation or chemo and I'm doing just fine and cancer free.

Eva Glave

This articel really needs more background information!
Do we talk about elective mastectomies, do we talk about every mastectomie, elective or not?
Does the study include and compare data concerning women with or without breast reconstruction after mastectomie?
As far as I am informed (I myself had a non-elective mastectomie at stage Ib breast cancer and DCIS), it can make a huge difference on our immune system if you get a proper reconstruction.
I also think it may depend on psychological aspects concerning the loss of one or two breasts.

For me as a person, this article just harms and doesn´t inform properly.

Angel Donata

I agree, this is unfair to post such a story. Where are the rest of the data on the subjects. What was the makeup of the tumors. Were the mastectomy patients tumors invasive or insitu? Did they have the gene? Were they on birth control for many years? Need more details.

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