13 July 2012
One in 5 women with breast cancer who opts for breast-conserving surgery rather than a mastectomy requires another operation within 3 months, according to new research.
More than half of women with breast cancer in England choose breast-conserving surgery, which, when combined with radiotherapy, produces similar survival rates to those achieved with mastectomy alone. However, breast-conserving surgery – removing the tumour and some normal surrounding tissue – can result in incomplete removal of the tumour, which typically requires women to have further surgery.
An English study of 55,000 women who underwent breast-conserving surgery for breast cancer between 2005 and 2008 found that 82 per cent had invasive breast cancer, 12 per cent had isolated carcinoma in situ (pre-cancerous disease) and 6 per cent had both invasive breast cancer and carcinoma in situ.
Further surgery was more likely among women with pre-cancerous disease (29.5 per cent) compared with those with isolated invasive breast cancer (18 per cent).
About 40 per cent of women who had a reoperation underwent a mastectomy.
Other results suggested that reoperation was less likely in older women and in those who had other illnesses. Reoperation was also marginally lower in women from more deprived areas.
Professor Jerome Pereira, consultant breast surgeon at James Paget University Hospitals and contributing author, said: “The important message from this national study is that [20%] of women with pre-cancerous changes, in isolation or with invasive cancer, have a reoperation following breast conserving surgery. As clinicians, we need to inform women of these findings and help them to make decisions about their surgical treatment.”
Last Reviewed: 13 July 2012