According to results recently presented at the 2007 annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, surgery for patients with metastatic breast cancer improves survival.

Metastatic breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread from its site of origin to distant sites in the body. Once spread the cancer tends to invade vital organs and crowds out working cells, making them unable to function.

Standard treatment for metastatic breast cancer varies according to several factors, one of which is the extent of spread. The surgical removal of the breast (mastectomy) or the site of cancer in the breast (lumpectomy) is often reserved for patients with earlier stages of breast cancer. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer, on the other hand, typically consists of chemotherapy and/or hormone therapy. Results have recently demonstrated, however, that surgical removal of detectable cancer may improve outcomes for metastatic breast cancer patients.

Researchers recently conducted a study to evaluate data from a database including 170 women with metastatic breast cancer who were diagnosed between 1998 and 2005. The study compared outcomes between women who underwent surgery in the form of a mastectomy (removal of entire or lumpectomy and those who did not undergo surgery at diagnosis.

  • Median survival for patients who underwent surgery was nearly double compared with those who did not undergo surgery.
  • Median survival was just over four years for patients who underwent surgery compared with only 2.36 years for those who did not undergo surgery.

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The researchers concluded that surgery for patients with metastatic breast cancer appears to significantly improve survival. However, because this study was an analysis of data, a clinical trial to further evaluate this issue is warranted, as certain subgroups of patients may benefit from surgery more than others.

Patients with metastatic breast cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of surgery as well as other therapeutic options.

Reference: Barkley CR, Bafford AC, Burstein HJ, et al. Breast surgery for women presenting with Stage IV breast cancer. Program and abstracts of the 30th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; December 13-16, 2007; San Antonio, Texas. Abstract 5085.

Related News:Surgery in Metastatic Breast Cancer Improves Survival (05/17/2006)

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