New guidelines recently published by three of the nation’s leading cancer organizations have updated recommendations for women who have undergone a mastectomy to treat breast cancer. Within the new guidelines are a series of new factors for oncologists to consider when determining which patients might benefit from radiation therapy following their mastectomy. The three organizations responsible for the new guidelines are the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO).
The main takeaway from the updated guidelines is that experts now believe that there is strong evidence showing that radiation therapy after a mastectomy reduces the chances of breast cancer recurrence. Additionally, new research found that even women with smaller tumors and minimal lymph node involvement can benefit greatly from receiving radiation. In the past, radiation was more commonly recommended for women with four or more lymph nodes affected by breast cancer.
Other relevant findings and recommendations found within the updated guidelines include:
- When deciding whether or not to receive radiation treatment, women should consult with their entire medical team. This may include the oncologist, breast cancer surgeon and a radiation specialist.
- Radiation therapy is recommended for women with stage 1 or stage 2 breast cancer who have undergone chemotherapy prior to a mastectomy if there are still positive lymph nodes following chemotherapy.
- Doctors should consider factors unique to each patient before making recommendations on radiation therapy including:
- The patient’s age
- Chances of recurrence
- The stage of the patient’s breast cancer
- How many lymph nodes are affected
- Other medical conditions that could reduce a woman’s life expectancy or increase the risk of side effects
We recommend for any patient who is planning on having mastectomy, or patients who have recently undergone a mastectomy, to speak to your oncologist about these updated guidelines. If your doctor says that you do not require radiation following your mastectomy, you should follow-up and confirm that the radiation specialist was part of the decision-making process.
Choosing your breast cancer treatment is a big decision and one that should not be made without doing extensive research first. Hopefully these new guidelines will help direct you to the breast cancer treatment that will be of most benefit to your condition. If you are interested in learning more about radiation therapy and other breast cancer treatment options, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter & YouTube for more news and updates.