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UK study finds that half of mastectomy patients recieve unneccessary surgery

Mastectomy patients

(NaturalNews) A shocking study conducted via a national audit of UK healthcare showed that nearly 50 percent mastectomies for women due to early signs of cancer were entirely unnecessary.

Presented to the European Breast Cancer Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, statistics illustrated that, out of more than 8,000 patients, about 2,500 had procedures to remove their breast. Many more endured unnecessary extra procedures, because doctors failed to identify the extent of the disease correctly, according to The Telegraph.

Unnecessary pain both physical and emotional

In several cases, physicians incorrectly exaggerated the stage and threat of the cancer detected, leading women to undergo painful and expensive treatments.

Evidently, researchers failed to accurately "plot the spread of disease," a very important part of patient monitoring and treatment. Some are blaming variation between hospitals.

The study's leader, Dr. Jeremy Thomas, a consultant pathologist at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, called the results "terrible" figures. He pointed to discrepancies between hospitals as the reason for significant variation in treatments.

"It would appear from our data that, in some hospitals, the discussions in the multi disciplinary teams are not looking in enough detail at the results from the mammograms and pathology in order to make the right decision about the best surgical treatment for these women," Dr. Thomas said.

Some hospitals were performing surgeries on women who had small tumors stemming from a non-invasive version of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). This puzzles researchers, since small lumps are typically removed without surgery.

Approximately 20 percent of cancers detected via breast screening were DCIS, and the study's authors say managing this form was "one of the most challenging parts of breast screening practice."

Nearly half of the women diagnosed with DCIS, which affects the milk ducts in the breast, are predicted to be likely to develop invasive breast cancer later on. But doctors are unable to determine which will and are therefore recommending the same treatments to everyone, often involving going under the knife.

"At some [hospitals], no mastectomies were carried out on women found to have only small tumours," reported The Telegraph. "In others as many as 60 per cent of operations were found to involve small lumps which could have been safely removed without a mastectomy, the research found."

Last year, Hollywood celeb Angelina Jolie made a statement and arguably set a trend when she preventively had both of her breasts removed. Jolie, a genetic carrier of a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, witnessed her aunt die of breast cancer, and her mother of ovarian cancer.

Remarkably, less than 1 percent of women carry the faulty BCRA1 gene. Yet, after Jolie made her decision public, genetic testing for the mutated BCRA1 gene increased nearly 70 percent.

Becoming more and more prevalent, cancer scares have affected women so deeply that many opt for a mastectomy, even when they are told that a lumpectomy is sufficient.

The Chief Executive of the Breast Cancer Campaign, Baroness Delyth Morgan, said:

"These results highlight a variation in practice which needs to be addressed to ensure that all patients who are given a diagnosis of DCIS receive the highest possible standard of care and most appropriate treatment, regardless of the hospital they are in. We look forward to seeing how these results can inform practice to ensure that these variations are no longer an issue."

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