Swiss researchers reported on Monday that surgery greatly increases a patient's chances of surviving with breast cancer, even if the cancer has spread by the time a woman is diagnosed.
Researchers found that many women around the world were simply offered palliative care, to help them live a little longer and make them comfortable while they wait to die, surgery could help them live much longer.
Dr. Elisabetta Rapiti of the Geneva Cancer Registry at the University of Geneva, who led the study, stated that based on these findings it has become important to take to consideration the current standard of care for breast cancer patients initially diagnosed with metastatic disease. She further stated that the study shows that the surgery of the primary tumor could provide an important survival gain for women with metastatic breast cancer at initial diagnosis.
Globally, more than 500,000 people die each year of breast cancer, according to the WHO. Statistics show that only about 6% of the women are initially diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. This is the breast cancer that has spread elsewhere in the body, and is considered incurable.
Dr Rapiti's team studied 5,000 patient records from the past 35 years and have found that women with metastatic breast cancer at initial diagnosis were 40% less likely to die from the disease if they had the primary tumor surgically removed.
They found that among the 300 women diagnosed with breast cancer that had already spread, 58 percent did not get any surgery while 42 percent got either a mastectomy or had the tumor removed. She had reported in the Journal for Clinical oncology that the five-year survival rate for women who had successful surgery was 27%, compared to 16% for women who had surgery but whose tumors were not completely removed, and 12% for women who did not undergo surgery. They also found that among the woman whose cancer had spread only to the bone, and those who have had a successful surgery were 80% more likely to be alive five years after diagnosis than women who did not have surgery.