According to a new study from Duke University, women who undergo lumpectomies plus radiation during the early stages of breast cancer fare better than women who endure mastectomies.
Previous research showed the two operations produced the same results. This is the first study to find lumpectomies may actually be a better option.
"Women who are on the fence about it-- this will support them in the idea that this is a very good treatment option for them," said Freya Schnabel, Director of Breast Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Over the last decade, more and more women, particularly young patients, began opting to have their entire breast removed. This study may reverse that trend.
"I think sometimes patients think because mastectomy is a bigger operation, that means it's a better treatment," Schnabel said.
Experts say factors like tumor size and family history should be considered when choosing a treatment.
Breast cancer survivor Toni Spring when to three doctors. The first two recommended she have one or both breasts removed. She was relieved to find out a lumpectomy could be just as effective.
"It was very empowering that I had this choice I didn't really think I had," Spring said.
If her cancer returns, she can still have a mastectomy if she needs one.