You know the story. You go through some oh-so-not-fun medical treatment and then you find out afterwards that maybe you didn't really need it. Well they did it again. The announcement was made at the Breast Cancer Symposium in San Antonio yesterday where the focus on less is more. In some ways I am for it.
I am against over treatment. I have experienced some of what could be over-treatment for some women with breast cancer and am just as happy to never repeat it. Some of the recommendations are:
If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer which has already spread, is surgery to remove the original tumor really necessary? If a woman has metastases to bone, brain, or liver, does removing the tumor really matter in survival? And if a tumor can be shrunk significantly in chemotherapy or radiation, is it really necessary to remove it? Some new studies are showing that the surgery may not be necessary.
But we are trained to want to 'cut out' bad things so this may be a harder decision to make for patients and surgeons.
Another change suggested was women over 65 who have early stage hormone driven breast cancer, skipping radiation may be an option. They can go on an aromatase inhibitor and skip the radiation.
For women with Her2+ breast cancer, an option may be for a 'lighter' version of chemo where they only receive paclitaxel and Herceptin. This would allow them to skip the heavy duty chemo which has been known to cause heart problems in patients, including a few of my friends.
I think I can live with these changes. They are focusing on smaller groups instead of the slash/burn technique that over treats many women.
You can read the whole story here or I am sure you will find it all over the media in the next day or two.