THURSDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer patients in
rural areas of the United States are less likely than those in
cities to receive recommended radiation therapy after having a
lumpectomy, a new study finds.
Lumpectomy is a breast-sparing surgery that removes only tumors
and surrounding tissue.
"The lumpectomy findings are worrisome because lack of follow-up
radiation therapy could lead to recurrence, another surgery, and
another time period of concern for the woman and her family,"
Elizabeth Habermann, associate scientific director of surgical
outcomes at the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care
Delivery, said in a Mayo news release.
The analysis of data from nearly 350,000 California breast
cancer patients treated between 1996 and 2008 revealed other
differences in diagnosis and treatment between rural and urban
patients, the researchers said.
Rural women were less likely to have their estrogen-receptor
status tested and their tumor graded, which are two important parts
of the diagnostic work-up for breast cancer. Rural women were also
more likely to choose mastectomy (complete removal of the breast)
rather than lumpectomy.
The findings were presented at the AcademyHealth annual research
meeting, held June 23-25 in Baltimore.
"These study results are concerning," Habermann said. "All women
should receive guideline-recommended cancer care, regardless of
where they live."
She and her colleagues said further research is needed to
determine the reasons for the differences between rural and urban
breast cancer patients, so that action can be taken to correct
Despite the deviation from recommended treatment, no significant
difference in death rates was noted between rural and urban breast
The data and conclusions of research presented at meetings
should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
breast cancer treatment.