Breast cancer affects around 48,000 women in the UK each year. There are a number of risk factors associated with the disease, such as family history and age. Generally, the threat of breast cancer rises as you get older, so women between the ages of 50 and 70 are advised to be screened every three years.
Breast cancer treatmentsThere are two main types of treatment for breast cancer: lumpectomy or mastectomy. A lumpectomy involves removing lumps and some surrounding tissue which are otherwise described as simple breast lumps. Lumpectomy procedures are often referred to as "breast-conserving therapies". In contrast, there are seven types of mastectomy but generally requires the removal of a large part of, or the entire breast or breasts.
Traditionally, a mastectomy has been viewed as a safer treatment because it involves removing a large area of the breast. A lumpectomy, on the other hand, may be preferred because it saves the breast. However, new research has, hinted that the latter procedure may also have more positive outcomes for the survival of breast cancer patients.
What the study was based onA study, published in Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society, has suggested survival rates are better in patients that undergo a lumpectomy. The findings were based on instances of either stage I or II breast cancer between the years 1990 and 2004, with a follow-up of 112,154 cases carried out in 2009.
Lumpectomy or mastectomyThe study claimed that women who underwent a lumpectomy alongside radiation treatment were more likely to survive than those who had a mastectomy. The biggest benefit was witnessed in women over the age of 50 with hormone-sensitive breast cancer. They were shown to have a 14 per cent lower risk of mortality from the disease than their counterparts who had a mastectomy.
The research claimed that in the first three years after surgery, women who had a mastectomy also had a greater chance of dying from heart disease and other conditions. Dr Shelley Hwang, of the Duke Cancer Institute, said: "The findings in this study should reassure women that among all age groups and tumour types, lumpectomy continues to be an excellent choice for women with small early breast cancers."
While this study certainly points to the benefits of a lumpectomy, the advice of a medical professional will be paramount in choosing the most suitable treatment.