Follow-Up Procedures Common in Women After Breast-Conserving Surgery

THURSDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Many breast cancer patients who have undergone breast-conserving surgery undergo follow-up diagnostic and invasive breast procedures, a new study says.

Breast-conserving surgery is the most common treatment for women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) breast cancer, but the amount of subsequent care in this group of patients wasn't known.

In this study, researchers examined data from DCIS patients who underwent breast-conserving surgery at three large health-care systems in Massachusetts and California and were followed for up to 10 years.

Over that time, 31 percent of the women had diagnostic mammograms and 62 percent had invasive procedures to check for the return of breast cancer.

"Breast-conserving treatment is a reasonable option for women with DCIS and results in similar long-term mortality outcomes as mastectomy," said Dr. Larissa Nekhlyudov, an assistant professor in the department of population medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston. "However, invasive procedures and diagnostic evaluation workup for possible recurrent breast cancer extends over a long period following DCIS excision and treatment," she said.

The researchers said the high rates of diagnostic imaging and invasive procedures may be due to concerns about recurrence.

"The fact that women undergoing breast-conserving surgery are likely to have diagnostic and invasive breast procedures ... is important and needs to be included in discussions about treatment options," the researchers noted.

The study appears April 5 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

-- Robert Preidt

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Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, April 5, 2012