New way of preventing return of breast cancer

Removing healthy cells surrounding tumours cuts chances of breast cancer returning.

Last Updated: Oct 19, 2010, 12:54 PM IST

London: Breast cancer patients can reduce their chance of the disease returning if they let surgeons remove small amounts of the healthy tissue surrounding the tumour.

Research has shown that the chance of the disease returning can be reduced by more than 90 percent if at least two mm of normal cells surrounding the cancer are taken out.

Surgery to remove part of a woman`s breast is often an extremely distressing experience and many specialists will try and preserve as much healthy tissue as possible for cosmetic reasons, reports the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

But this latest research has prompted doctors to call for new guidelines to try and reduce the chances of the cancer returning, according to the Daily Mail.

In a study of 303 women, doctors at the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, found that if at least two mm of healthy surrounding tissue was removed there was a 2.4 percent risk that tumours would return, compared to a 35 percent risk if one mm of surrounding cells were removed.

Lead author Stephen Ward from the hospital`s department of breast surgery said: "Patients undergoing breast conserving surgery are more likely to have recurrent cancer and the amount of tissue removed around the tumour, known as the free margin, remains controversial."

"A survey of 200 UK breast surgeons published in 2007 revealed wide variations in what they considered to be an adequate margin, with 24 percent wanting a clear margin of one mm and 65 percent wanting a margin of two mm or more."

IANS