Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States today. More and more women are getting lumpectomies now, especially if they are in the early stages of breast cancer, to combat the disease. 

CBS news reports on lumpectomies.

Many women have elected to get lumpectomies after coming to the conclusion that this will prevent the cancer from spreading.

Lumpectomies are known as breast conserving surgeries; but are they beneficial and can most women get them?

Statistics show that in 1998, slightly more than 54 percent of eligible women decided to have a lumpectomy. But a new study by Dr. Bedrosian from the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center, shows that this number had passed the 60 percent mark by 2011.

“Previous research has found that mastectomy where the entire breast is removed, was chosen as often as lumpectomy among women with early stage breast cancer who were candidates for lumpectomy and the radiation that typically follows it,” according to CBS.

Dr. Bedrosian finds that the new results are good news, but emphasized that issues still exist. Some of these problems include lack of insurance and the distance some patients must travel to treatment clinics and hospitals.

The majority of women who choose surgery that will conserve their breast also need whole-breast radiation, which is typically administered in daily fractions over a six-week period. The researchers explained that there are numerous women who lack transportation or cannot take a break from work or family responsibilities to do that.

The new study was published online on June 17 in the journal JAMA Surgery.

The report draws from a database that is more complete than those used in other research.

Dr. Bedrosian said the team looked at information on women treated for early stage breast cancer between 1998 and 2011. The authors put all of the data into the National Cancer Data Base, sponsored by the American College of Surgeons and the American Cancer Society. It brought in around 70 percent of newly diagnosed cancer cases in the United States.

CBS explains, “The researchers looked at factors that influenced the surgery decision made by nearly 728,000 women. The investigators found that the decision to have breast-conserving surgery was more likely in women aged 52 to 61 compared to younger women.”

Researchers also found that women who had a higher education were also more likely to have a lumpectomy. Also, those without insurance were less likely to go for breast-conserving surgery than those with private insurance. Women with a lower income were also less likely to choose lumpectomy.

Dr. Bedrosian told CBS it is essential that these remaining barriers be addressed so that women who are eligible and want breast-conserving surgery can get it.

Dr. Newman, who is a professor of surgery at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, wrote a journal editorial to accompany the study. She said, “Breast-conservation rates may well continue to rise as women become better-informed regarding its safety and as we become more successful with early detection of breast cancer, when lumpectomy is more likely to be feasible.”

Gerry Oginski
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