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Breast cancer patients have a better chance of survival if they are treated with radiation following surgery, according to British research.

A woman's five-year risk of the cancer returning after a lumpectomy drops from 26% to 7% if she also has radiotherapy, says the study, funded by Cancer Research UK and Medical Research Council. The 15-year risk of death from breast cancer meanwhile falls from 36% to 31% with the treatment.

Women in Britain can choose not to have radiotherapy after having a lump removed if they have fears over side effects such as damage to arm or shoulder and occasionally, heart attacks on a new cancer developing in the lung or other breast.

The study, published in The Lancet, surveyed worldwide trials of 40,000 women with early breast cancer and found there were similar benefits of radiation of women who had their entire breast removed but whose cancer had already spread to the armpit.

However, the study noted that the treatment failed to work for all women. For those who had a breast removed, but whose cancer had not spread to the armpit, the benefit of radiotherapy where slight and were outweighed by side-effects.

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