Prophylactic Mastectomies Have More Than Tripled in the Past Decade

Posted Date: April 13, 2016

A recent Annals of Surgery study published by M. Golshan and associates indicates that the rates of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy have more than tripled from 3.9% to 12.7% between 2002 to 2012, despite no evidence of long-term survival benefit.

A research study titled, “Growing Use of Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy Despite no Improvement in Long-term Survival for Invasive Breast Cancer,” reported a significant increase in the number of women opting for contralateral prophylactic mastectomies, which involves removal of the healthy breast, instead of a lumpectomy plus radiation therapy or unilateral breast removal. Although prophylactic mastectomy of the healthy breast may be a wise choice for a subset of high-risk women (with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation for example), in most women it does not improve survival, and the process of recovery is riskier, longer, and more difficult.  The data included more than 496,000 women with invasive breast cancer, and indicated that many women decide on contralateral prophylactic mastectomy due to fear or anxiety about eventually developing breast cancer in the healthy breast. The authors encourage women with early stage breast cancer to explore all of their options including careful consideration of the risks and benefits of aggressive treatment plans involving a double mastectomy. Read the full article here.