- A new data analysis of 100,000 women with early-stage breast cancer raises questions about the effectiveness of treating it with a lumpectomy or masectomy.
- The analysis, published Thursday in JAMA Oncology, indicates those treatments may not change outcomes, and women with early-stage cancer had nearly the same likelihood of dying of breast cancer as the population as a whole.
- The findings may change medical thinking about early-stage breast cancer treatment.
The New York Times breaks down this complex study: Up to 60,000 women a year get diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer; most of them receive a lumpectomy, a masectomy or even a double masectomy; and this analysis questions whether those invasive treatments have any medically measurable impact.
The JAMA Oncology article covers what is believed to be the largest-ever data analysis of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). As the Times notes: "The findings are likely to fan debate about whether tens of thousands of patients are undergoing unnecessary and sometimes disfiguring treatments for premalignant conditions that are unlikely to develop into life-threatening cancers."
“In medicine, we have a tendency to get too enthusiastic about a technique and overuse it,” Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, told the Times. “This has happened with the treatment of DCIS.”
That is a clinical way of putting it. Women who have undergone masectomies for Stage 0 breast cancer may have a rather different response.