Fighting cancer

Study: Younger women with early stage breast cancer may be better off choosing a mastectomy

Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders don pink breast cancer awareness shirts before the first half of an NFL football game. (REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

Many cancer specialists have long urged women diagnosed with breast cancer that hasn’t spread to their lymph nodes to seek less aggressive treatments than a mastectomy, even as a trend toward mastectomies has cropped up with advances in reconstructive surgery and differences in insurance reimbursements. Doctors reasoned that there wasn’t sufficient data to suggest that undergoing a mastectomy increased long-term survival. However, data revealed in a new study appears to contradict that thinking.

The results of the study, which only looked at women under the age of 45, were published this week in the journal European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology, and showed that women who underwent less conservative operations followed by radiation had a 13 percent higher recurrence rate than women who opted for a mastectomy and didn’t receive radiation treatment.

The researchers who conducted the study followed the women for a 20-year period. Older women in the U.S., over the age of 60, are at the highest risk of developing breast cancer — however, breast cancer attacks younger patients, under the age of 45, more aggressively and carries a higher chance of being metastatic, meaning it will spread to other parts of the body.

Read the full study at Quartz.

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