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Doubts raised over need for early-stage breast cancer surgery

NEW YORK • Thousands of American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer - Stage 0, as it is commonly known - a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumour. And almost every one of the women has had either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well.

Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes. Patients with this condition had close to the same likelihood of dying from breast cancer as women in the general population, and the few who died did so despite treatment, not for lack of it, researchers reported on Thursday in JAMA Oncology, an online weekly medical journal.

Their conclusions were based on the most extensive collection of data analysed on the condition, abnormal cells confined to the milk ducts of the breast, known as ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS: 100,000 women were studied over a period of 20 years.

The Straits Times

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