Saturday, February 27, 2010

Study: Removing healthy breast affects cancer odds

Study: Removing healthy breast affects cancer odds - A new study shows that only a small group of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast benefit from elective surgery to have the other, healthy breast removed.
Copyright by The Chicago Sun-Times
February 27, 2010,CST-NWS-breast27.article

A growing number of women with cancer in one breast choose to have their other, healthy breast removed in hopes it will prevent a second cancer. But new research finds that elective surgery improved survival in only a small group of women -- those who are under 50 and are in the early stages of a type of breast cancer known as estrogen receptor-negative cancer.

That group accounts for about 6 percent of women with breast cancer.

Based on these findings, the majority of breast cancer patients should "feel more assured that they are not hurting their odds of survival from breast cancer by keeping the opposite breast," wrote the study's lead author, Dr. Isabelle Bedrosian, of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

But, Bedrosian added, the decision to have elective surgery is still one that needs to be individualized for each patient.

Using a National Cancer Institute database, researchers identified 107,000 women with breast cancer who'd undergone a mastectomy between 1998 and 2003. Of those, 8,900 women also had their healthy breast removed.

Nearly 89 percent of the women with ER-negative cancer in its early stages were alive after five years if they underwent a preventive double mastectomy, compared with 84 percent of women who did not, the M.D. Anderson researchers report in this week's Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

No other group had such a clear survival benefit.

That could be because older women with late-stage cancers are more likely to die before they develop a second cancer, diminishing the potential benefit of preventive surgery, Bedrosian said


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