Removal cancerous tumour in the breast
Surgical removal of the cancerous tumour in the breast improves survival in patients with spread to other organs – Although many patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer have early stage disease with only a cancerous lump in their breast and no sign of spread elsewhere, some patients are found to have spread to other organs such as the bones, lungs and liver.
Friday 24th February 2012
The spread to vital organs such as the lungs and liver is of course more life threatening than the original cancerous lump in the breast. In the case of patients who have spread to other organs the first treatment is therefore chemotherapy. This is the best treatment to deal with the spread to the lungs and liver and it also has beneficial effects on the original cancerous lump in the breast. Usually not only the secondary spread to the lungs and liver regresses with chemotherapy, but also the primary tumour at the site where the cancer originally stared in the breast also shrinks down and can even become undetectable on mammogram or ultrasound.
Up until recently doctors have often advised that in these situations having breast surgery after successful chemotherapy is not necessary. The spread to the liver and lungs is potentially much more life threatening and of course doctors would not wish their patients to have an operation which at the end of the day may not make any real difference. Now two new studies have shown that it is beneficial to remove the primary breast cancer from the breast once chemotherapy has been completed. Patients who have any remaining breast cancer removed by an operation have longer survival. Additionally if the primary breast cancer is left it can become a lot larger again and can cause uncontrollable pain and ulceration. It is probable that leaving the primary breast cancer in the breast allows continued further spread of the breast cancer. At the Harley Street Breast Clinic we believe that surgical removal of the primary cancer from the breast is an important part of the overall treatment for patients who have spread to other organs such as the bones, liver and lungs.