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After about five years, 90 percent of those given wider radiation were cancer-free versus 84 percent of the others, and there was a trend toward better survival with more radiation.

Lung inflammation and lymphedema _ painful arm swelling caused by poor drainage _ were more common with wider radiation, but doctors said these side effects were worth the benefit of fewer cancer recurrences.

The results are “potentially practice-changing” and will encourage doctors to offer wider radiation, Whelan said.

Worldwide, about 1.3 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and nearly 500,000 women die of the disease. Last year in the United States, there were about 207,000 new cases and 40,000 deaths from breast cancer.

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Online:

Breast cancer: http://bit.ly/iIrUxt

Breast cancer risk calculator: http://cancer.gov/bcrisktool

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Marilynn Marchione can be followed at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP