AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS. Breast conserving therapy (lumpectomy followed by radiation) has been shown to be as effective as mastectomy (removal of entire breast) in the treatment of breast tumors with a diameter of 2 cm or less. A team of medical researchers from Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the UK now report that breast conserving therapy (BCT) results in similar survival rates as mastectomy when dealing with larger tumors (2.1-5 cm) as well. Their study involved 868 women with stage II breast cancer who were randomly assigned to receive either BCT or radical mastectomy. After 10 years of follow-up there was no significant difference in the rate of survival among the BCT patients (65 per cent) and the mastectomy patients (66 per cent). The incidence of distant metastasis was also similar in the two groups over the 10-year follow-up period; 39 per cent for the BCT patients and 34 per cent of the mastectomy patients. There was, however, a significant difference in the recurrence of local tumors among the two groups. Among the BCT patients six per cent had a recurrence as compared to only 3.3 per cent in the mastectomy group. The 13-year survival rates were 60 per cent in the mastectomy group and 55 per cent in the BCT group. The researchers conclude that BCT and radical mastectomy result in similar survival rates among patients with stage II breast cancer.
van Dongen, Joop A., et al. Long-term results of a randomized trial comparing breast-conserving therapy with mastectomy: European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer 10801 trial. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 92, July 19, 2000, pp. 1143-50