September 11, 2015 – Watching and Waiting


Anchor lead:  Can some breast cancers be safely watched rather than immediately treated? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Active surveillance or watchful waiting is a strategy that’s been in place to manage prostate cancer for some time after criticisms of too much treatment emerged.  In the wake of recent studies suggesting that breast cancers, too, are often overtreated, will this strategy be employed for some women with early breast cancer?  David Euhus, director of breast surgery at Johns Hopkins, says research is underway.

Euhus: The prostate doctors are way ahead of us, and I often compare the prostate to the breast, it’s very hormone sensitive, the cancers that arise behave in a very similar fashion. There are studies accruing now for women who have a DCIS detected on a mammogram, as long as its estrogen receptor positive they will be managed with watchful waiting or just antihormonal medicine. We’re certain that we will identify a subgroup that can be managed without surgery or radiation.  :33

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.