LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A new study shows that women 65 and older who are diagnosed with small, early-stage breast cancer don’t have to undergo radiation to improve their odds of survival.
However, one expert said women should do everything possible to put breast cancer behind them.
“I think that the authors of this study’s conclusion are that women over 65 and older can forgo radiation is not acceptable,” CEO and founder of breastcancer.org Dr. Marisa Weiss said.
She’s referring to research published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. It included more than 1,300 women 65 and older diagnosed with early-stage, hormone receptor-positive, node-negative breast cancer. Some got radiation and some didn’t.
“It showed that adding radiation dropped the risk of recurrence substantially, Weiss said. “Like 10 fold from 10% basically down to 1% but that drop in reoccurrence did not translate to living longer.”
Radiation therapy can cause mild physical and cosmetic side effects and it also requires a near-daily commitment of one to six weeks. In the study, radiation lowered the risk of recurrence by almost 90% at 10 years of follow-up. Dr. Wiess feels her patients are willing to do everything they can to prevent cancer from coming back.
“I did everything I could that was reasonable and effective to lower the risk that I’ll ever see breast cancer again,” she said.
So although the survival rate was about the same with or without radiation, making it an optional part of treatment, it’s something you should discuss very seriously with your doctor.