In a study of more than 600 women with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer treated at a single institution, treatment with breast-conserving therapy was as effective as total mastectomy. These results were published in Annals of Surgery Oncology.

Breast-conserving therapy involves lumpectomy (removal of the cancer and some surrounding tissue) followed by radiation therapy. Studies have found that breast-conserving therapy produces survival rates that are similar to those achieved with mastectomy (removal of the entire breast) among women with early-stage breast cancer.

To evaluate outcomes by type of surgery among women with triple-negative breast cancer, researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center collected information about 646 women who were treated between 1999 and 2008. All of the women had T1 or T2 tumors (tumors that were 5 cm or less in size) and no evidence of cancer in the lymph nodes.

A total of 448 women underwent breast-conserving therapy and 198 underwent mastectomy without post-mastectomy radiation. Women who had mastectomies tended to be younger and to have larger tumors.

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Most women also received adjuvant (post-surgery) chemotherapy.

  • Five-year risk of a cancer recurrence in or near the breast (a locoregional recurrence) was 4.2% among women treated with breast-conserving therapy and 5.4% among women treated with mastectomy.
  • The two groups were also similar with respect to risk of distant metastases and overall survival.
  • Factors that were linked with worse survival were lack of chemotherapy and higher tumor stage.

These results show that both breast-conserving therapy and mastectomy provided effective treatment in this group of women with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer.

Reference: Zumsteg ZS, Morrow M, Arnold B et al. Breast-conserving therapy achieves locoregional outcomes comparable to mastectomy in women with T1-2N0 triple-negative breast cancer. Annals of Surgical Oncology. Early online publication May 19, 2013.

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