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Saturday 24th August 2019

Women to be warned of risks of breast-conserving surgery

13th July 2012

A new study has issued a warning to women over reoperation rates for breast cancer.


The research published in the British Medical Journal suggests one in five women with breast cancer who has part of the breast removed, rather than the whole breast, ends up having another operation.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine say the reoperation rate increases to one in three for women whose early-stage cancer is difficult to detect.

With 58% of women with breast cancer having breast-conserving surgery in England, the research team say they should be informed of the risk of further operations.

The study looked at data on 55,297 women with breast cancer in England who underwent breast-conserving surgery, rather than a mastectomy, on the NHS between 2005 and 2008 and at procedures carried out in the three months following the first operation.

While they found breast-conserving surgery is as effective as mastectomy, in cases where the cancer is more difficult to detect it may not remove the cancer totally with a further operation needed.

Consultant breast surgeon Professor Jerome Pereira said the study would mean clinicians can now advise patients better, enabling them to make a more informed decision about their treatment.

“We all have a different attitude to risk but this is empowering patients to make the right decision for themselves,” she said.

Ramsey Cutress, Cancer Research UK breast cancer surgeon at the University of Southampton, said it was important for patients to fully understand "the pros and cons of surgery".


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