Saving the Breast From Cancer: Only for the Rich?
WebMD News Archive
What's more, she says, these women may not know that under certain
circumstances, "lumpectomy does not lessen the odds of long-term
survival." In this study, when women were given a choice of treatment, 31%
decided on mastectomy, and 33% opted for lumpectomy, "although breast
conservation is often better in the long term for the patient's feelings about
herself as a woman," says Baron. "These women need to know ... that
choosing lumpectomy will not affect their life expectancy."
Whether the disparity is a matter of transportation and other logistical
details, insufficient information, or a combination, Baron tells WebMD that
education is key. "We need to pay very special attention when it comes to
teaching low-income and less-educated women about the benefits of breast
conservation treatment," she says.
The fact that everyone who participated in this study is a survivor
"should empower women to take charge of their health," says Baron. In
addition to doing monthly self exams and getting regular mammograms, she says,
"if you've been diagnosed with breast cancer and you're scared, if things
like transportation or child care or job concerns are keeping you from getting
treatment -- you need to communicate that to your health care
- Among breast cancer patients, women who are poor and have limited education
are more likely to have their breast removed. Their wealthier peers more often
opt for treatment that will leave their breast intact, according to a new
- The researchers suggest the lower-income group of women may go the
mastectomy route because it is quicker, and these women cannot take time away
from work and find child care in order to get six weeks of daily treatment
after a lumpectomy.
- The researchers add that when breast cancer patients talk with their
doctors about treatment options, the women should discuss concerns about job
flexibility and child care. Also, patients should know that in cases where a
lumpectomy is appropriate, the chances of survival are not lower than with