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Women Eligible for Lumpectomy Still Choosing Mastectomy

Better pre-surgical chemotherapy means more of the breast can safely be saved, researchers say

FRIDAY, April 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Many breast cancer patients who are eligible for breast-conserving surgery still choose to have the entire breast removed, according to research scheduled for presentation Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Surgical Association, held from April 23 to 25 in San Diego.

"We don't have an answer for why this is the case, but we hope that this work encourages more patients and clinicians to think about why this is happening and what we can do to address this," lead researcher Mehra Golshan, M.D., director of Breast Surgical Services at the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in Boston, said in a Brigham and Women's Hospital news release.

In the study, Golshan's team focused on women with triple-negative breast cancer. The researchers found that lumpectomy was successful in more than 90 percent of patients who were eligible for it after undergoing chemotherapy. However, 31 percent of eligible patients still decided to have the entire breast removed, according to the study.

"In general, if possible, we try to offer breast-conserving therapy as a preferred option for women with early-stage breast cancer," Golshan stressed. "One of the reasons we use chemo first is to potentially allow women who originally needed to have the entire breast removed -- because of more advanced disease -- to now be eligible for breast-conserving therapy," he explained. "We see, though, that a significant number of patients who were eligible still ended up deciding to have their breast removed."

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