New Breast Cancer Studies - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/17/02 - Tyler

New Breast Cancer Studies

We know if breast cancer is found early enough, it can be treated without removing a breast. Despite what we know, two new studies from The New England Journal of Medicine say women are still having their breasts removed.

One of those women is Freda Harder, diagnosed with breast cancer 7 years ago. She didn't understand her treatment options then, "Had my doctor steered me differently," she says. "Had my doctor given me different information."

Frightened, she made a radical decision, "I wanted the cancer gone at whatever cost." The cost was her entire breast. She had a common treatment called a mastectomy. She she could have had a lumpectomy--the alternative where a small portion of the tissue is removed. It's called "breast conserving" and new studies say it's just as effective as a mastectomy--if the cancer is found in early stages. Recovery time is less, women are living just as long, and the cancer reoccurrence is no different.

Why aren't more women choosing it?

Dr. Sasha Vukelja with Mother Frances Hospital has an answer, "Maybe they were not informed." Now, 12 states...including Texas require their doctors to tell patients about all treatment options--to avoid loosing a breast. But, is that enough? "There's still the mind set of the public that if you take it off, you will live longer and I think we have to change that," says Dr. Vukelja.

An important note, women with large tumors or several tumors in the same breast often don't have a choice and must remove the entire breast.

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