Among the most commonly diagnosed cancer, and most prevalent cause of cancer death in women is breast cancer; estimated to affect 1 out of every 8 women. Out of the approximately 220,000 American women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, 40,000 will die of it. Even with today’s cutting edge research technology, much remains to be discovered about how best to treat and manage this serious illness.
A study from the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center was recently presented at the 2014 Breast Cancer Symposium, which began September 4th, and will run until the 6th at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in San Francisco, California. It challenged the common notion that different treatment options for breast cancer can produce the same chances of survival, and emphasized the importance of regularly reevaluating known standards for managing breast cancer.
The study was led by Dr. Isabelle Bedrosian, an associate professor of surgical oncology at MD Anderson. According to her and her team’s findings, mastectomy should no longer be widely seen as the go-to treatment option for breast cancer, as breast conservation therapy (BCT) may actually offer a greater chance of survival, especially for women with early stage, hormone-receptor positive breast cancer.
This widespread thinking that both forms of treatment would yield the same survival benefits started from conclusions drawn from studies conducted in the 1980s — a time when scientists knew very little about breast cancer. There have been many discoveries about the disease since then, and yet no one to this point combined the new knowledge and technology and amend what was previously known about the two treatments. Dr. Bedrosian and her fellow researchers hypothesized that a patient’s choice of surgical treatment along with the specifics of the tumor’s biology would significantly change potential survival benefits.
In this retrospective study, out of 16,646 women, 11% opted for BCS, 67% chose BCT, while the remaining 22% went for a mastectomy. Dr. Bedrosian’s findings were quite surprising. Those who underwent BCT had the highest survival rate, with a 5-year survival of 96%. 90% of those who underwent a mastectomy, and 87% of those who received BCS would survive.
Despite these numbers, Dr. Bedrosian knows nothing is conclusive yet. These findings merely bolster other researches that produced results similarly in favor of BCT. She credits BCT’s advantage to the radiation therapy administered, which better targets hormone-receptive positive breast tumors.
In other news on breast cancer, another interesting study from MD Anderson was completed last month, and it concluded that obesity coupled with elevated estrogen increase the likelihood of mortality from breast cancer among postmenopausal women.