Doctors in India have concluded that a lot more can be gained by a lot less when it comes to cancer. Women who have reached advanced stages of breast cancer are advised not to go under the knife, a new study says.
A randomised control trial by doctors of the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) in Parel from 2005 to 2013 studied 350 women with metastasized breast cancer between the ages of 25 and 70. The women were divided into two groups. While 173 women underwent breast removal surgery, ie mastectomy or conservation surgery, followed by radiation therapy, the other 177 did not undergo surgery. In both groups, the cancer had advanced beyond the local site to lungs, liver
The doctors reached a conclusion that surgery in cases of women whose cancer has spread or metastasized does not improve the patient’s condition. “There are no benefits of doing surgery in patients with metastasized breast cancer,” said study author Dr Rajendra Badwe, head of the surgical breast unit at TMH, at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas, US. “The level of metastasis or the age of the patient has no implication whatsoever on the results.
Surgery is not prolonging their lives.”
It was observed that there was no improvement in the health of the women in both groups. In fact, there was a slightly higher risk of death in women who had undergone surgery. There were 111 deaths in the group that had had their breast cancers cut out, compared with 107 deaths in the group that did not.
The results have come as a relief for traumatised women who might be coerced into undergoing surgery in spite of their cancer having spread to distant sites. In Mumbai, 32 women
in every 1 lakh have breast cancer, with the cancer spreading beyond the breast in 10% of
“We observed that when the women, for whom surgery was inadvisable, went under the knife, it posed a higher risk of death for them. At times, oncosurgeons, at their own discretion, advise surgeries, but now, this trial should help doctors and patients decide when not to opt for one, thus saving a lot of mental trauma and expenses to the patients and their families,” said Dr Sudeep Gupta, head, medical oncology at TMH.
Findings of the randomised control trial
The study was carried out from 2005 to 2013 by doctors at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel. 350 women with metastasized breast cancer, which had spread to liver, bone or lungs, were studied
While 173 underwent surgery of partial or full breast removal, 177 did not
It was observed that there was no improvement in the health of the women in both groups
There was a slightly higher risk of death in women who had undergone surgery. There were 111 deaths in the group that had had their breast cancers cut out, compared with 107 deaths in the group that did not
It was concluded that surgery was not advisable for treating metastasized breast cancer.