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Research Presented at the 2013 Breast Cancer Symposium


Breast Cancer image

Cosponsored by the American Society of Breast Disease, the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, the National Consortium of Breast Centers, and the Society of Surgical Oncology

The 2013 Breast Cancer Symposium was held September 7 - 9, 2013, in San Francisco, California.

Radiation Therapy for DCIS Does Not Seem to Increase Cardiovascular Disease Risk
A study conducted in the Netherlands found that, after 10 years, women who had received radiation therapy to treat ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast have no increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared to the general popu­lation of Dutch women. These results may be helpful to women who are deciding on their treatment plan, and may seem reassuring for DCIS survi­vors treated with radiotherapy.

“Doctors have been worried about late effects of breast radiation therapy, particularly cardiovascular disease. Our findings suggest that routine radiation therapy for women with DCIS does not appear to increase the risk of develop­ing cardiovascular disease later in life. This is especially important in light of the current concerns about over-treating patients diagnosed with DCIS,” says lead study author Naomi B. Boekel, MSC, a PhD student at the Netherlands Cancer Insti­tute in Amsterdam. “However, studies with longer follow-up after breast radia­tion therapy are needed before definitive conclusions about cardiovascular disease risk can be drawn.”

MRI Around the Time of Surgery May Be Unnecessary for Women with DCIS
A large, retrospective study of women who underwent a lumpectomy for ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast found that adding an MRI scan to standard mam­mography immediately before or after surgery does not decrease local recur­rence or contralateral breast cancer rates. Some doctors order MRI routinely to look for additional areas of cancer, and others use it to get more information if there is a discrepancy between what is found during the physical exam and what they are seeing on a mammogram or an ultrasound. The findings suggest that MRI does not improve long-term outcomes for most women with DCIS and, therefore, may lead to a decrease in routine use of MRI in this patient population.

“We now have a lot of evidence that indicates that MRI isn’t necessary for every patient with DCIS. Aside from the cost of the test, MRI has a rather high false-positive rate, which may re­sult in additional biopsies and a delay in surgery,” says first study author Melissa L. Pilewskie, MD, a breast surgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, NY. “We need to focus on spending money and time on tests that we know are going to provide benefit.”

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For more information on these and other studies presented at the 2013 Breast Cancer Symposium, visit Cancer.Net/BreastSymposium.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, November/December 2013.