Health Magazine

Older Women, Lumpectomy and Radiation

Posted on the 24 August 2012 by Jean Campbell

radiationNew research, published in the journal Cancer on August 13th, indicates that older women (70-79 years) receiving radiation following a lumpectomy reduce their chances of needing a mastectomy in the future.

These research finding differ from current treatment guidelines that recommend older women with early, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes have a lumpectomy to remove the tumor, followed by hormonal therapy for five years (1x daily dose in pill form) but no radiation. These guidelines reflect that the risk of a recurrence is very low in older women compared to younger women. Radiation following a lumpectomy is standard practice for younger women.

Current guidelines are largely based on a 2004 study that found radiation for women in this age group only slightly decreased the odds of cancer recurring compared to receiving only the estrogen-blocking drug Tamoxifen (hormonal therapy).

In the new research study, the authors reviewed the medical records of more than 7,400 women aged 70 to 79 who had a lumpectomy for early-stage, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer between 1992 and 2002. Almost 90 percent of these women had received radiation after surgery.

After a follow-up period of 10 years, 6.3 percent of women who did not get radiation needed a mastectomy versus only 3.2 percent of women who had received radiation.

“Overall in this group of women, radiation was associated with a decrease in mastectomy,” said study senior author Dr. Benjamin Smith, an Assistant Professor of radiation therapy at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston. “The absolute decrease was small but it was certainly measurable.”

Certain women seemed to benefit more from radiation than others, namely those with high-grade (aggressive) tumors, Smith added.”These are highly aggressive-looking cell types,” said Dr. Philip Bonanno, Director of the Breast program at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. “This is a tumor that we know is going to be a bad actor given enough time.”

The study found that radiation was not necessarily helpful for patients 75 years and older who did not have high-grade tumors and whose cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes. Dr. Bonanno stated,  “Women over 75 years of age are not all the same and neither are their cancers.”

Dr. Smith stated. “It’s unclear if the findings will be practice changing. At the very least, he said, the paper should help clarify which older patients would benefit the most from radiation. I view this paper as adding a very nice layer of nuance on top of those guidelines. In our practice group, we’ll be more enthusiastic about radiation in high-grade tumors and less enthusiastic in low-grade tumors, particularly in older women.”

SOURCES: Benjamin D. Smith, M.D., Assistant Professor, Radiation Therapy, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; Philip C. Bonanno, M.D., Director, Breast Program, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mt. Kisco, N.Y.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Sexual Problems in Older Women Taking Aromatase Inhibitors to Prevent Recurrence

    Sexual Problems Older Women Taking Aromatase Inhibitors Prevent Recurrence

    Findings on a new Swedish Study, published online this month in Menopause and appearing in the February 2013 print issue of the journal, state that... Read more

    By  Jean Campbell
  • She Was Undergoing Radiation Treatment …

    Undergoing Radiation Treatment

    Jean was going through a course of radiation for her cancer. There was a disk player in the ward, and every time she went for treament, the song You’re... Read more

    By  Gran13
  • Fitness Studio for Women

    Fitness Studio Women

    IronFlower Fitness is an amazing fitness studio for women that just opened on Biscayne Blvd in Miami. This sassy sexy place invites you to indulge in their... Read more

    By  Byfitnessgym92
  • Older People Are Easier to Catch ….

    Older People Easier Catch

    SERENADE 2 SENIORSIn order to help save our economy, the Government will soon announce their decision to deport senior citizens in order to lower Social Securit... Read more

    By  Gran13
  • What to Eat When Getting Radiation

    What When Getting Radiation

    I often find research articles about what to eat while taking chemo, but, until now, none about what to eat when getting radiation. Read more

    By  Jean Campbell
  • Jewish Women and Space

    Jewish Women Space

    While most people don’t usuallyassociate Jewish women with space and astronomy, they have a surprisingly richhistory in the subject. Caroline Lucretia... Read more

    By  Starofdavida
  • Being an "Older Mum"

    Funny, there are a few great posts around at the moment about being an older mother. (By that I mean birthing at a later age rather than just being a mother... Read more

    By  Expatmum

Paperblog Hot Topics