One major decision you may face with early breast cancer is whether to have a lumpectomy (also called breast conserving surgery) plus radiation therapy or a mastectomy. They are equally effective in treating early breast cancer.  Overall survival is the same for lumpectomy plus radiation therapy versus mastectomy. This means both treatments lower the risk of dying (from breast cancer or other cause) by the same amount. The choice between lumpectomy plus radiation therapy versus mastectomy will not affect your survival. However, it may affect your risk of breast cancer recurrence (the return of cancer) within the breast.

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Local recurrence

Local recurrence is the return of cancer to the breast, chest wall or lymph nodes after treatment.  Most local recurrences occur within the first 5 years after diagnosis. If you have a recurrence, you will need more treatment.

Distant recurrence (metastasis)

Distant recurrence (metastasis) occurs when cancer spreads beyond the breast to other organs such as the bones, liver, lungs or brain. The risk of distant recurrence is the same for people who have lumpectomy plus radiation therapy and those who have mastectomy.

Click here to learn more about breast cancer recurrence.

SOURCE: Susan G. Komen Foundation

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