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Q. "You say that the survival rate does not differ 'significantly' between lumpectomy with radiation and mastectomy. But, if there is a tiny percentage difference in outcome, how many women does that represent? Isn't it significant to those women?"
A. "Statistically insignificant" means that any difference could have occurred by chance, and not necessarily because one treatment is better than another. It does not mean the difference is small -- it means it is not known whether the difference (however large or small) is related to the treatment or if it occurred by chance. It is necessary to conduct studies of thousands of breast cancer patients to determine whether small differences are "real" or occurred by chance. The studies that have been conducted seem to indicate that survival rates really are the same for women with early-stage breast cancer, regardless of the type of surgery.