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Breast preservation possible for lobular breast cancer patients

Breast preservation possible for lobular breast cancer patientsAbout half of women with lobular breast cancer may be able to save their affected breast by undergoing chemotherapy prior to breast surgery, an Austrian study has found.

Historically, chemotherapy was thought to have little benefit for lobular breast cancer patients due to these tumors’ poor response rate to the treatment. But no studies had been conducted to examine whether chemotherapy may have any positive effect on breast preservation – until now.

Says study leader Prof. Dr. Florian Fitzal from the Medical University of Vienna: “We were able to show that one in two women who have this type of breast cancer and would really need complete removal of the breast, can keep the breast with the help of this treatment strategy.

The treatment is principally responsible for a sufficient reduction in size of the cancer, so that during the subsequent surgical excision, the breast could be then preserved in 48 percent of cases. Only three percent have a local recurrence after five years, i.e. a tumor found at the same site.”

Saving the breast in cases like these can vastly improve a patient’s quality of life, which was the purpose of the study. “We wanted to achieve this through the combination of the therapy with the oncoplastic surgical methods,” said Fitzal. “We hope that anti-hormonal therapy prior to surgery will bring even further improvements.”

Less aggressive than the more common ductal carcinoma, lobular breast cancer typically features a larger tumor with more branches. And because nodules are only palpable later, tumors are often discovered when the cancer has reached an advanced stage.

The study’s results have been published in the journal Annals of Surgical Oncology. More information about invasive lobular carcinoma is available through the Mayo Clinic website.