Researchers looked at whether the age of women with early breast cancer affected the surgical treatment they had in Australia and New Zealand between 1999 and 2006. They found that a woman was more likely to have some treatments if she was in a given age group.
How a surgeon takes a sample of breast tissue
To find out if a woman has breast cancer, a surgeon takes a sample of a lump in the breast by either:
- inserting a fine needle into the breast (the most common treatment)
- core biopsy - the surgeon inserts a large needle through a cut in the skin (more common in women 50-70 years)
- open biopsy - the surgeon takes tissue out through a cut in the skin (most common in women under 40 years).
Number of operations
- Women under 40 years were more likely to have larger, high-grade cancers which had spread to the lymph nodes. One in four patients needed more than one operation.
- Women over 70 were less likely to need more than one operation.
Breast conserving surgery or mastectomy
- Among patients with early breast cancer who were likely to have similar health outcomes, given their condition and symptoms, younger women were more likely to have breast conserving surgery. More research is needed to check that these women have adequate surgery and follow up.
- Women over 70 years with breast cancers that could be treated with breast conserving surgery were more likely to have a mastectomy.