An 18-year followup from the National institutes of Health shows that women with early-stage breast cancer treated with removal of their breast did no better than those with limited lumpectomy.

A hundred years ago, doctors treated breast cancer by removing the breast with muscles and ribs underneath it and lymph nodes in the armpits. Thirty years ago, research showed that there was no advantage to removing more than just the breast, and this study shows that removing just the tumor lump without regard to surgical margins, dissecting arm-pit lymph nodes, and giving radiation was as effective as removing the entire breast. 20 years later, there is no difference in survival, recurrence of disease, or having breast cancer in the other breast between women with early-stage breast cancer treated with lumpectomy and radiation verses removing the entire breast. Women with limited surgery had fewer side effects of treatment.

Eighteen-year results in the treatment of early breast carcinoma with mastectomy versus breast conservation therapy - The National Cancer Institute randomized trial. Cancer, 2003, Vol 98, Iss 4, pp 697-702. MM Poggi, DN Danforth, LC Sciuto, SL Smith, SM Steinberg, DJ Liewehr, C Menard, ME Lippman, AS Lichter, RM Altemus. Poggi MM, 5412 30th Pl NW, Washington,DC 20015 USA

Checked 9/5/05

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