Setting standards on lumpectomy

October 20, 1992|By Linell Smith

For the first time, major health organizations have agreed upon standards clarifying which breast cancer patients should be offered the option of lumpectomy and radiation therapy as an alternative to removal of the breast, the American College of Radiology announced today.

At least one-third of all breast cancer patients could be eligible for a lumpectomy -- removal of the primary breast tumor and adjacent breast tissue -- followed by about six weeks of radiation therapy instead of mastectomy, under the new guidelines.

The American College of Surgeons, the American Cancer Society and the College of American Pathologists' Committee on Cancer worked with the American College of Radiology to develop the standards.

They say women whose early breast cancer was detected by mammography are candidates for the breast-saving treatment. Women with a small lump whose cancer has not spread to surrounding tissues are also eligible. And, depending on the size of the tumor in relation to the size of the breast, women whose tumors have spread may qualify.

Studies show the survival rates for many breast cancer patients are

the same whether they are treated by mastectomy or by lumpectomy and radiation therapy.

The new standards also recommend proper follow-up:

* A physician's examination every three to six months for three years after treatment; every six months for the fourth and fifth year; an annual exam thereafter.

* A mammogram after surgery and before radiation therapy to ensure all of the tumor has been removed; a mammogram every six months for the first year after treatment; an annual mammogram thereafter.

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