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More Women Choose to Remove Noncancerous Breasts

Study: Prophylactic Mastectomy Increasing as Acceptance of Procedure Grows

Prophylactic Mastectomy: No Improvement in Survival Rate continued...

Women who are considering removing a healthy breast should weigh the pros and cons with the help of counseling in a breast cancer program that includes specialists in genetics, advises Edge.  “People usually make good decisions when they’re well-informed,” he says.

Both Simmons and Edge agree that the best candidate for prophylactic removal of both breasts is a BRCA-positive woman who also has a strong family history of the disease, meaning she has several first- and second-degree relatives who were diagnosed at a young age.

The current study, published in the Sept. 28 online edition of the journal Cancer, used cancer data collected from New York state health records.  The results showed that women who underwent double mastectomy to protect against further cancer development were more likely to be younger, white, and carry private health insurance than other breast cancer patients.

Edge attributes the overall drop in mastectomy rates seen over the past two decades in the study to the high success rate of surgical lump removal -- a less invasive, relatively conservative approach compared to extracting the entire breast.  He says that lumpectomy yields a survival rate similar to mastectomy.

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