Early diagnosis is essential for breast cancer survival - hence the importance of checking your breasts regularly. Now research suggests young women with early stage cancer don't necessarily need a mastectomy to increase survival chances.
In fact, comparing those who had a mastectomy to those who just had radiation therapy revealed little difference in percentage survival rates, even in the long term.
A study in the United States by the University of Maryland analysed data from nearly 15,000 patients and found similar survival rates with a lumpectomy and radiation treatment, known as breast-conservation therapy, as with mastectomy.
The overall survival for those who had breast conservation therapy was 92.5% after five years, 83.5% after 10 years, and 77% after 15 years. That compares with 91.9%, 83.6% and 79.1%, respectively, for those who had mastectomies.
"We believe these findings are very significant for young women with early-stage breast cancer who might choose to have a mastectomy in the hope of improving their outcome,” said Steven J. Feigenberg, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the University of Maryland.