TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A new study may give younger women new confidence in choosing a less aggressive surgical option to treat breast cancer. It compares how often cancer returns when removing part of the breast versus the entire breast.
Dr. Karissa Boyd of Topeka's Cotton-O'Neil Cancer Center says many women have an anxiety when they're diagnosed with breast cancer that immediately makes them want to remove the whole breast because they think that is the best chance the cancer will not return.
However, results of a new study presented last month show taking the aggressive approach doesn't make a difference. It looked at nearly 15,000 women under the age of 40 diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and compared those who had a mastectomy -- removing the entire breast - versus lumpectomy - removing just the affected area- followed by radiation.
Boyd says the study showed that, over time, recurrence and survival rates were equal. Boyd says it's important because mastectomy tends to have a longer recovery time, requiring drains and other measures.
However, a concern for lumpectomy is that the cancerous tumor have clearly defined margins. Boyd says surgeons want to remove the tumor and two millimeters of cancer-free tissue around it. The most important thing, she says, is removing all the cancer cells and that the patient follows up with the radiation. She says the regimen usually involves five days a week for six weeks.
Despite the commitment, Boyd says, for her, the psychological benefit for a woman being able to keep her breast tips the scales in favor of lumpectomy when it's an option. She says looking in the mirror every day and seeing no breast is a constant reminder when women may, at times, want to forget they had cancer.
You can join the fight against breast cancer by joining the Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk at 1 pm Sunday, Oct. 23, at the Statehouse. Walk yourself or donate at www.makingstridestopeka.org.