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Breast cancer patients are being under-treated

30 March 2010 Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

Breast Cancer WomanBreast cancer patients who undergo radiation treatment after mastectomy lower their risk of the cancer coming back in the chest wall or surrounding areas to as low as 10% and the overall survival is improved, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“A substantial number of breast cancer patients are being under-treated. One in five women with strong indications for radiation after mastectomy failed to receive it.  Radiation can be a life-saving treatment,” says study author Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil, assistant professor of radiation oncology at the U-M Medical School.

The study assessed 2260 women treated for breast cancer for whether they had mastectomy or lumpectomy, and whether they would be strong candidates for radiation therapy. 95% of the women who had lumpectomy received radiation therapy, while only 78% those who had mastectomy received radiation therapy. The study also found that doctor participation strongly influenced radiation receipt.

“Even patients who wanted to avoid radiation therapy were very likely to receive it if their surgeons were highly involved in the decision process. We need to do a better job of educating both patients and physicians regarding the benefits of radiation after mastectomy in certain circumstances, and we need to encourage physicians to help their patients as they make these important decisions,” Jagsi says.

Source:  University of Michigan

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