Medicine: Saving Breasts: Less surgery for tumors

Less surgery for tumors

Each year more than 100,000 American women are told that they have breast cancer. For nearly 9 out of 10 of them, the treatment is almost worse than the disease: mastectomy, or total removal of the breast and sometimes the underlying muscle too. Doctors have long argued over whether this disfiguring surgery is really necessary. Now the results of a long-awaited federal study suggest that for perhaps half of the patients, it is not.

The study, published in last week's New England Journal of Medicine, compared the results of mastectomy with a far less radical operation called lumpectomy, in which only...

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