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Dec 03, 2015 07:05 AM EST

Women with stage IV breast cancer now have better survival rates

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In a review of medical data, researchers have found that the chances of survival of women with stage IV breast cancer are getting better, especially for women who undergo surgery to remove the cancer, UPI reports.

In the past few years, many doctors have moved away from performing mastectomy because it was not seen to improve a patient's health situation.

However, the new research suggests that moving away from surgery may not be the right approach.

"Maybe we need to revisit this question of surgery," said Mary C. Schroeder, an assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Iowa and one of the authors of the study, told the Washington Post.

"It may not be right for all women, but it may be better for some women than it was in 1995."

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, the researchers reviewed medical records for 21,372 women diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer between 1988 and 2011. The records were collected as part of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results study.

The study revealed that the median survival of women who had surgery was higher, 28 months, as compared with 19 months for women who did not have surgery.

Among patients who survived 10 years after their diagnosis, 9.6 percent of the women had surgery, compared to the 2.9 percent that did not have surgery.

However, the researchers said that it was too early to say that surgery will help women live longer.

"Randomized clinical trials and prospectively enrolled registries will be essential to understanding the underlying causal relationship between our observed association of receipt of surgery and improved survival," researchers wrote in the study,

"A large benefit for many women with stage IV breast cancer with surgery to the intact primary tumor is unlikely, especially as an ever-increasing array of more potent and targeted drugs may be able to provide better control or even eradication of systemic disease."

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