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Chemotherapy before Surgery Can Help Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Patients Undergo Lumpectomy

Triple-negative breast cancer has no receptors for estrogen and progesterone hormones, as well as the HER2 protein. That’s why there are limited medicines for treating it.

Evidence from a clinical trial has shown that triple-negative breast cancer patients who receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy before their scheduled surgery can be eligible for a lumpectomy. About half of those diagnosed with the early-stage disease were not eligible for lumpectomy before.

But still, 44% of the women who became eligible for lumpectomy opted to have a mastectomy instead.

A mastectomy removes the whole breast, while lumpectomy (breast-conserving surgery) removes the cancerous tumor and part of the surrounding tissue.

Getting a lumpectomy followed by radiation is equally as effective as undergoing a mastectomy for patients with cancer in a particular area of the breast and tumor, which is less than 4 centimeters.

In other cases, women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in one breast choose to have a double mastectomy where both the affected and healthy breast are removed for fear that cancer may develop in the healthy breast. Removal of the other healthy breast is known as collateral prophylactic mastectomy.

Many factors contribute to the decision breast cancer patients make regarding surgery. Some of them include;

  • Whether they want to keep their breast or not
  • If they want their breasts to match in size
  • Whether they will have breast reconstruction. Radiation therapy can affect the timing of their reconstructions and also their reconstruction options
  • Anxiety about their breast cancer recurring.

Mastectomy is a more extensive surgery compared to lumpectomy. Having a double mastectomy is also more extensive than getting a single mastectomy.

The study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of neoadjuvant chemotherapy on triple-negative breast cancer patients who were scheduled for surgery to see if they could be eligible for a lumpectomy.

Of all the participants, 53.2% considered eligible for a lumpectomy after undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The results demonstrate that neoadjuvant chemotherapy can help in breast conservation in patients with stage II and III triple-negative breast cancer who would have otherwise needed a mastectomy. 

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