Fifty year-old Toni Spring was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer. She decided on a lumpectomy -- a simpler operation than removing her breast. "Very happy with the choice because I didn't have to stay in the hospital for longer than the surgery and a couple hours after recovery.
A new study from Duke University finds women who undergo lumpectomies plus radiation to treat their early stage breast cancer have better survival rates than women who undergo mastectomies.
"Women who are on the fence about it, women as they make their own decisions, this will support them in the idea that this is a very good treatment option for them," said Freya Schnabel, Director of Breast Surgery at New York University's Langone Medical Center.
Previous research showed the two operations produced the same results. This is the first study to say lumpectomies with radiation can actually be a better option. Over the last decade more women are opting to have their entire breasts removed -- especially younger patients. This study may reverse that trend. "I think sometimes patients think because mastectomy is a bigger operation, that it means it's better treatment," Schnabel said.
Experts say factors like tumor size and family history should be considered when choosing a treatment. Toni Spring went to three doctors. The first two recommended she have one or both breasts removed. She was relieved to find out a lumpectomy could be just as effective. "It was very empowering that I had this choice that I didn't really think I had," she said
She said if her cancer comes back she can have a mastectomy if she needs one.
Marlie Hall - CBS News
PO Box 4508