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Study shows that a high percentage of older women don't get radiation therapy after mastectomy

Most doctors recommend radiation therapy for women who have undergone a mastectomy. A new study made breast cancer news by showing that almost half of older women who have advanced breast cancer don't get the recommended post-surgery radiation therapy.

Researcher Dr. Ben Smith, assistant professor of radiation oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, told WebMD Health News, "Even if you have adequate surgery, there is a chance of hidden cancer cells after the surgery." If women with advanced cancer refuse post-mastectomy radiation therapy, Smith states that "up to 30 or 40 percent will have a recurrence."

Smith and his research colleagues found that between 1996 and 1998, the percentage of high-risk patients who received radiation therapy increased about 20 percent. Between 1999 and 2005, there was no further increase and only a little over half of high-risk patients opted for radiation therapy after mastectomies.

According to BreastCancer.org, receiving radiation therapy can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence by roughly 70 percent. Many people fear the usage of radiation on their bodies, but the therapy is easy to tolerate for most and the side effects experienced are normally limited to the treated area.
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