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Study Prompts San Diego Doctors, Patients To Question Breast Cancer Treatment Strategy

GUESTS:

Dr. Reema Batra, medical oncologist, Sharp Grossmont Hospital

Donna Pinto, diagnosed with DCIS

Transcript

Early intervention is key in the treatment of breast cancer. But how early is too early?

A new study by a team of Canadian researchers found invasive treatments for ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, did not improve survival rates.

The study, published Thursday in JAMA Oncology, looked at more than 100,000 patients. Researchers found the survival rates, 20 years after diagnosis of DCIS, were the same for women who had surgery in comparison to those who did not.

The American Cancer Society reports there are about 60,000 cases of DCIS diagnosed in the United States every year.

"I think this is kind of confirming what we've been thinking for awhile now," Reema Batra, medical oncologist at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday. "We're probably over-treating DCIS. Everyone was kind of over enthusiastic in trying to treat the patients. We may need to rethink our strategy."

Batra said DCIS, which is having cancerous cells in the duct of the breast, is considered "Stage 0" level for cancer.

Donna Pinto, a patient who was diagnosed with DCIS in 2010, blogs about her treatment. She said she's seen several doctors and oncologists, and has even been offered Xanax.

"If I'm low-risk, this is too much," Pinto said. "I think we have to look at this from a every case is individual. You can't just do one size fits all."

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