Washington: For the majority of older women with early-stage breast cancer, radiation therapy following breast conserving surgery may help prevent the need for a later mastectomy, say researchers.The findings from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center are contrary to current national treatment guidelines, which recommend that older women with early stage, estrogen-positive disease should be treated with lumpectomy followed by estrogen blocker therapy alone -- and forgo radiation therapy post-surgery.The potential benefit of radiation in this patient population has been the focus of much research over the past decade, said Benjamin Smith, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Therapy at MD Anderson and the study`s corresponding author.In 2004, a major study found that women who received tamoxifen alone, compared to tamoxifen and six weeks of radiation, had a slightly higher incidence of breast cancer recurrence.Yet, there was no difference in mastectomy rates or survival among the two cohorts, said Smith.Based on these findings, the NCCN adjusted its treatment guidelines, and radiation therapy following lumpectomy was no longer recommended. Smith then followed up this guideline-changing research with a population-based study, confirming the earlier findings with respect to breast cancer recurrence.
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