ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The latest evidence suggests less may be more when it comes to treating certain types of breast cancer.

A new study finds women with early stage breast cancer who had a lumpectomy and radiation actually had a better survival rate than those who underwent a mastectomy.

“There are lots of women who think the more [treatment] they do, the better they will do,” said researcher Dr. Shelley Hwang, chief of breast surgery at Duke Cancer Institute. “This refutes that.”

But a breast cancer surgeon at St. Louis University Cancer Center, Dr. Teresa Schwartz, says this was just an observational study and she would not feel comfortable telling her patients that a lumpectomy is the better way to go.

“I would definitely not tell a patient that, based on this one observational study, that having a lumpectomy is superior to having a mastectomy,” she said. “I do not have the literature to back that.”

“It is still a completely individualized decision that has a lot of patient-related factors and a lot of pathological-related factors that come into the decision-making process. This paper doesn’t clear all of that up.”

Women 50 and older saw the greatest benefit in this study: they were 13 percent less likely to die from breast cancer when they had the less radical surgery.


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