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Regional Node Irradiation Can Boost Breast Cancer Survivability

With more than 231,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in the United States annually, the push is on to help those who develop this disease survive it. While mortality rates have declined tremendously over the past few decades, researchers want to see them improve even more. A new study out of Europe may offer some insights on how to make that happen.

Conducted by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer, the study followed a group of women who had been diagnosed with stage I, II or III breast cancers. Some of the women received regional node irradiation along with other forms of treatment and some did not. Researchers found at a slight increase in survival for patients who had undergone regional node irradiation. With an average follow-up of 10.9 years reported, women in the irradiation group had an 82.3 percent survival rate. Women in the group that forewent irradiation of regional nodes had a survival rate of about 80.7 percent courtesy of other treatments.

The results involving the 4.004 patients are just the beginning. Researchers hope to continue monitoring the outcome over a 20-year follow up to see how much of a difference regional node irradiation can make over a longer duration.

What the study points out is that sometimes in breast cancer treatment going an extra step can make a difference. Although study findings at present show only a slight increase in survivability, they are significant. This is especially so for women who may have otherwise faced mortality.

Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer are urged to carefully review all their treatment options with their healthcare providers. The best recommendations for a course of action will be based on case-specific facts. In some instances, regional node irradiation may be indicated. Women, however, should discuss all the benefits and potential complications with their doctors.

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