Radiation Lowers Mastectomy Rate for Older Women
For older women with early stage breast cancer, a "lumpectomy" followed by radiation can cut the rate of mastectomies by 2/3. A team of researchers atthe MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, led by Benjamin D. Smith MD, studied a group of women 70 and up and published their findings in the journal Cancer.
"Outside of a clinical trial, the receipt of radiation therapy after conservative surgery is associated with a greater likelihood of ultimate breast preservation for most women ages 70 to 79 years who have early breast cancer," they wrote. "This benefit should be considered by patients and physicians when evaluating choices for local treatment."
MedPage Todayreports that the authors noted that demographic shifts in the United States "are expected to result in a 57% increase in the number of breast cancers diagnosed in older women over the next 20 years. For older patients in particular, the benefits of adjuvant therapies intended to prevent a future recurrence must be weighed against the competing risk of noncancer death before recurrence."
However MedPage Today also reports that one subgroup of patients did not benefit from radiation therapy: Those aged 75 to 79 who had "pathologic lymph node assessment and no evidence of high-grade tumor."