WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Timing is everything. When it comes to treating late stage breast cancer, a new study shows timing is crucial. Researchers have found that delaying treatment even for a few months, could put thousands of women at risks.
What started as a way of taking her mind off of breast cancer treatment, turned into a passion for Jean Lipovich. She makes cards of encouragement for others. It reminds her how fortunate she is for the decisions she made about her own health care.
"You've got to take care of it. You can't sit back and think and worry about 'oh what if this, what if that.' You've got to step forward and do it," said Jean.
Jean was treated for breast cancer just two weeks after being diagnosed, and a new study shows how crucial prompt treatment can be.
According to Electra Pasket, Ph.D. Of Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center, "If women waited 60 days or longer to start their breast cancer treatment, they had a worse outcome, meaning a higher rate or a higher chance of dying."
In fact, in the later stages of breast cancer, waiting for two months or longer for treatment, increased a woman's risk of dying a staggering 85%. Those treated earlier had no increased risk. Electra Paskett of Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer helped conduct a study that followed nearly 2,000 women over 3 years. Paskett says whether it was where a woman lived or how much she earned, whatever kept those patients from getting timely treatment, took a substantial toll and should be a factor in future cases.
"The effect was the strongest in the women with the most advanced cancer so that is another lesson, that if you have an advanced cancer, you need to start your treatment soon," said Dr. Paskett.
It's a message Jean believes in and shares with others every chance she gets.
"I've seen four of my grandchildren born and I know it's because I did quick treatment," shared Jean.
Doctors say even if they are diagnosed in later stages, most women have time to consider their options and even get a second opinion. But waiting two months or longer proved risky. The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.