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VCU-led study offers mastectomy alternative for patients with recurrent breast cancer


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Findings from a study led by Virginia Commonwealth University doctors could make way for a medical breakthrough for those with reoccurring breast cancer and who want to save their breast.

Up until now the standard for treatment when breast cancer comes back has been a mastectomy.

The national clinical trial was led by Dr. Douglas Arthur, a professor and chairman of Radiation Oncology at VCU Massey Cancer Center. The study looked at patients who had a recurrence after having an initial lumpectomy and whole breast radiation.

They found if they had a second lumpectomy and then treated just a small portion of the breast with external beams of radiation they could target the tumor and avoid exposing surrounding tissue and organs.

Researchers studied 60 patients over a 5 year period. The patients received lumpectomies followed by 3D-CRT partial breast reirradiation treatments delivered twice per day during 15 consecutive working days. Patients were evaluated for adverse events weekly during treatment and over the five years.

These findings offer evidence that breast-conserving treatment is feasible and effective through a second lumpectomy and 3D-CRT partial breast reirradiation, providing a viable substitute for mastectomy.

“We found that we are able to preserve the breast 90% of the time, controlling the cancer 95% of the time so really this proves that this a reasonable option,” Dr. Arthur said.

Arthur encourages patients to talk with their doctor and investigate options. The results of the study were published in the November 2019 issue of JAMA Oncology.



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