Radiation is Good, says the Lancet

The New York Times just reported on an important British study showing that radiation prevented recurrences and saved lives of women who had lumpectomies.

Specifically, researchers at the University of Oxford found radiation reduced the risk of a recurrence during the first 10 years after surgery to 19.3 percent from 35 percent, and reduced the risk of death from breast cancer from 21.4 percent to 25.2 percent in the first 15 years. Radiation provided results better than chemo or hormonal therapy alone.

The Oxford doctors analyzed 17 studies of almost 11,000 women in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Women with estrogen-positive tumors who took tamoxifen (to keep their bodies from absorbing natural estrogen) and had radiation had a smaller chance of recurrence than those whose tumors did not feed on estrogen.

And where there's a plus, there's a minus. Thomas A. Bucholz reports in The Lancet: if radiation is not used, this persistent locoregional disease can metastasise and increase the chance of dying from breast cancer.

So use it or lose it.