More women are finding more breast cancer earlier than ever before, thanks to increase awareness and improved diagnostics.
“The better we make use of imaging such as mammography, the earlier we’ll find cancers and the more people will be able to have breast preserving operations,” says Dr. Melvin Silverstein, Clinical Professor of Surgery at University of Southern California.
One breast conserving option is a lumpectomy, which removes the tumor along with a section of surround tissue, followed by radiation to kill microscopic cells.
“A lumpectomy with the radiation therapy is the equivalent of a mastectomy,” says Dr. Silverstein.
Studies confirm the lumpectomy paired with radiation equals a mastectomy in early invasive breast cancer.
“There is a slight increase risk of recurrence if you leave the breast intact but there’s not difference in survival,” says Dr. Lea Blackwell, a breast surgical oncologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.
Dr. Blackwell presents women with their options so they can make informed decisions.
“About 70% of the patients that I treat for breast cancer preserve their breasts and about 30% have mastectomies.”
As research shows less invasive procedures can deliver equal results, it also shows a mastectomy doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility that the cancer will come back.
“They have at least 2% of their breast tissue left after their mastectomy and breast cancer can come back even after a mastectomy,” says Dr. Blackwell.
It comes down to empowering women with the information to choose.