A recent report in the Daily Mail highlighted cancer treatments available to women who want to avoid mastectomy, but said ‘all too often patients simply aren’t told they exist.’
Traditionally the treatment for a breast cancer tumour of more than 3.5cm was a mastectomy. Some NHS doctors now prescribe chemotherapy BEFORE surgery to shrink the tumour and reduce the need to remove the whole breast. Around 75% of patients given this treatment respond to the drugs and need less of their breast removed. In around a third of cases they need only a lumpectomy. One of the pioneers of this is Prof. Kefah Mokbel of St. George’s Hospital in London, who gives patients 16 weeks of chemotherapy before operating. For 1 in 5 who have chemo first, their cancer is eradicated without surgery, with survival rates exceeding 92%.
It’s estimated that if chemo was given before surgery in every hospital around 2,200 mastectomies would be prevented each year in UK. Women wanting this treatment should ask their specialist where the nearest centre is and ask to be referred.