Daily Mail

Flawed breast cancer ops ‘risk disease returning’

- By Kate Pickles Health Correspond­ent

BREAsT cancer surgery guidelines are leaving thousands of women at risk of cancer returning, a major review has found.

Around one in five women who undergo treatment to remove tumours are having insufficie­nt breast tissue removed, researcher­s say.

This leaves them with a much higher chance of cancer recurring in the breast or elsewhere, making it incurable. Breast cancer is the second most deadly cancer for women, causing 11,400 deaths a year.

Experts said the focus has wrongly become about the cosmetic outcome of surgery, with an overrelian­ce on drug breakthrou­ghs and radiothera­py to mop up any remaining cancerous cells.

But they believe thousands of lives could be saved if between one and two millimetre­s of healthy surroundin­g the tissue was removed with the tumour.

In the biggest analysis of its kind, researcher­s from the University of Manchester compared the outcomes of 68 studies involving 112,140 patients.

The chances the rate of recurrence of a tumour elsewhere in the body was 25.4 per cent in patients who had cancerous tissue at the edge of what was removed.

But that figure fell to 8.4 per cent for those who had up to 2mm of health tissue removed as well and 7.4 per cent for patients with a clearance of 2mm or more, according to the findings, published in the British Medical Journal.

Cases of cancer returning in the breast – making it four times more likely to die from breast cancer – stood at 8.8 per cent for those with less than 1mm of healthy tissue removed and just 3.9 per cent for more than 1mm.

Professor Nigel Bundred, who led the study, said guidelines needed changing. He said: ‘You have to do the surgery right in the first place... some patients are being left with a tumour left in the breast and the assumption is that chemothera­py and radiothera­py will compensate.’

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