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Smart Woman: Lumpectomy vs. Mastectomy - abc27 WHTM

Smart Woman: Lumpectomy vs. Mastectomy

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It's a decision more than 232,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer will have to make in this country this year.

Doctors say women usually choose between a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.

A lumpectomy removes cancerous or other abnormal tissue from your breast. Mastectomies remove all the breast tissue.

"I have girlfriends that have gone through this unfortunately. Some chose a lumpectomy. Some chose a mastectomy," said Jennifer Kajcienski, a breast cancer survivor.

But Dr. Shelly Hwang, who works at Duke Medical Center, says more and more women are opting for mastectomies.

"There's this trend toward women just doing more. So if they have a choice between lumpectomy and mastectomy, they'll choose to have a mastectomy," Dr. Hwang said.

Often they remove both breasts, even if only one breast has cancer.

The latest numbers show 70 percent of those women don't have a proven medical reason.

That's where Dr. Hwang hopes a new study she led at Duke University could help.

The team analyzed more than 112,000 women with early-stage breast cancer, about half had a lumpectomy with radiation and the other half underwent a mastectomy.

"You would think the more surgery you did, the more aggressive you were, the better patients would do from their breast cancer. But we found that that wasn't actually true," Dr. Hwang said.

Those who received less-invasive treatment in all age groups had improved survival rates.

"For the majority of women who have the choice, they don't need to feel like they are being pressured to do the more aggressive surgery to get a better outcome," Dr. Hwang said.

After three rounds of chemo, Jennifer's lump disappeared without surgery. But she says if it came down to it, she'd do whatever it takes to make sure she survives breast cancer.

"I mean, we can live without parts of our body. Our kids and our families need us," she said.

That's three special reasons for Jen to keep moving on.

While a lumpectomy may prove to be more advantageous to most with early-stage breast cancer, the authors of the study say a double mastectomy could make more sense for a woman with a strong family history of cancer.

Or for those who've tested positive for genetic mutations, as was the case for Angelina Jolie.

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