Tuesday 23 July 2019

Two-thirds of breast cancer patients no longer need mastectomies

Claudia Tarnowska, from Carlow, supporting the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day. Photo: Andres Poveda
Claudia Tarnowska, from Carlow, supporting the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day. Photo: Andres Poveda
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Two-thirds of women who need to be operated on for breast cancer no longer have to undergo the ordeal of radical surgery, a new report confirms.

Instead of a mastectomy removing the entire breast, they are having the offending cancerous lumps surgically taken away, the National Cancer Registry says.

This allows for faster recovery without the need for breast reconstruction.

The report on trends in female breast cancer in Ireland said one in 10 women has a chance of developing the disease before the age of 75.

The death rate from breast cancer has fallen by about 2pc annually since 1994.

But the incidence is also rising by around 1.5pc per year since 1994.

Dr Harry Comber, interim director of the registry, said the rise in incidence is partly influenced by improvements in screening, which picks up more cases of the disease.

"Although the incidence rate of breast cancer continues to increase, it is reassuring that the mortality rate continues to fall."

There is also evidence that there is wider use of effective and appropriate treatment.

It remains that most common form of the disease in women - with 2,882 cases diagnosed annually.

On average, 690 deaths per year were attributed to breast cancer during 2011 and 2012, making up 17pc of all cancer deaths in Irish women.

More women with the disease are having radiotherapy. Women who get HER2 + breast cancer tend to have poorer prognosis and many are given the drug Herceptin.

This drug reduces the risk of recurrence and death.

The report said that, overall, Irish women have good access to the drug.


One of the most striking trends during the period 1994 to 2013 was the gradual rise in the proportion of women in whom the cancer was found in the early stages - which dramatically increases survival.

There was little change in the proportion diagnosed at late stage, down from 7pc to 6pc during that time.

Meanwhile, the Irish Cancer Society said it was too early to say if it had reached its fundraising target of €3.5m as thousands of volunteers took to the streets for Daffodil Day yesterday.

A spokeswoman said: "Many towns and villages turned yellow. Initial report from around the country are positive; with people being generous and the rain holding off. We are yet again completely overwhelmed the dedication of volunteers."

Irish Independent

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