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New Breast Cancer Radiotherapy Recommendations Not Impacting Reconstruction

Changes in post-mastectomy radiation recommendations for certain breast cancer patients have not had a profound impact on breast reconstruction rates as previously feared. Researchers, in fact, say that a new study indicates growing comfort with the idea of irradiating new breast reconstruction.

The changes were made recently in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Guidelines in association with radiation for patients who had tumors that were 5 cm or less and had 1 to 3 positive lymph nodes. As more studies began to show the benefits of post-mastectomy radiation therapy in these cases, the NCCN began counseling physicians to strongly consider radiation in these cases. Before the recommendation changes were made, some feared the switch might delay or cause some women to forego breast reconstruction all together. This, it was feared, would have a tremendous impact on patients’ quality of life.

Despite those fears, the benefits of post-mastectomy radiation won out. The recommendations for treatment were in fact changed. Researchers have since found that those recommendation changes have had very little impact on the number of women undergoing reconstruction follow mastectomy. In a population-based cohort study focused on mastectomy patients from 2000 to 2011, in fact, it was found that reconstruction rates remained positive.

More than 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. For many of these women, treatment will include a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Studies have shown that radiation therapy can also help shrink tumor size while helping prevent recurrence and spread. Women who are diagnosed with this disease, however, are urged to discuss all treatment options with their healthcare providers. The best recommendations will hinge on the particulars of the tumor, its stage and whether spread has been detected. All women are urged to undergo routine breast cancer screenings. This disease, when caught early, is often highly treatable.

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