Removal of the original tumour from where breast cancer first spreads could significantly extend the life of patients with terminal disease, researchers have claimed.
Scientists from the Netherlands said those who had surgery to remove their original tumour lived an average of 31 months, compared to 14 months for those who did not. In the long-term, 25% of women who had the surgery were still alive after five years, a figure that contrasts starkly with the 13% who survived after not having the operation.
Dr Jetske Ruiterkamp, from the Jeroen Bosch Hospital in Den Bosch in the Netherlands, said: ‘Between three and 10% of all of patients presenting with breast cancer in the region have stage IV breast cancer at first diagnosis and because this is considered to be an incurable disease, the majority only receive palliative treatment.
‘However, some 40% of the patients studied had had surgical removal of their breast tumour and we decided to look at the impact this had on their survival.’
The research, which was carried out on 728 women, was presented at a cancer conference in Berlin.