Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Some Women Have Regrets About Preventive Mastectomy


After diagnosis of the cancer, a discussion about preventive mastectomy of the other breast was initiated by the physician in the majority of cases (72%). The majority of women who initiated the discussion themselves had at least one first-degree relative with breast cancer.

Among all the women who chose to undergo preventive mastectomy, 18 (6%) had regrets. "Regrets tended to be less common in the women with whom the discussion of [preventive mastectomy] had been initiated by their physician than in the women who had initiated the discussion themselves," Montgomery and colleagues write.

Overall, the results indicate that there is a generally high acceptance rate of a procedure that is not as common today as it was years ago, when many of the women in the study had preventive mastectomies, Michael H. Torosian, MD, tells WebMD. He points out that patient acceptance of the procedure was 94%. "It's a somewhat debilitating operation for women to go through, so based on that, the acceptance rate reported in the article is rather high," says Torosian, who is attending surgeon and clinical director of breast-surgery research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

Today it is uncommon to remove the other breast in women who have cancer in one breast, according to Torosian, and most physicians do not recommend or encourage it. "It is a very small percentage of women who would be undergoing something like this today," he says. With the availability of drugs such as tamoxifen that have been shown to significantly reduce the number of new cancers when taken as a precautionary measure, the number of preventive mastectomies is likely to decrease even further. Torosian says there will always be some women who will insist on a preventive mastectomy even after the risks and benefits have been explained, but they are in the minority.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow