Women Have Unfounded Fears About Forgoing Prophylactic Mastectomy

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Unfounded Fears Prompt Prophylactic Mastectomy Choice
Unfounded Fears Prompt Prophylactic Mastectomy Choice

(HealthDay News) -- Among young women who undergo a bilateral mastectomy for cancer in one breast, contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) is often chosen to reduce risk of future cancer and improve survival, according to research published in the Sept. 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Shoshana M. Rosenberg, Sc.D., M.P.H., from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues conducted a one-time, 23-item survey involving 123 women without known bilateral breast cancer who reported having a bilateral mastectomy. The survey included items having to do with decision making, knowledge, risk perception, and breast cancer worry.

The researchers found that most women indicated that desires to decrease their risk for contralateral breast cancer (98%) and improve survival (94%) were extremely or very important factors in their decision to have CPM, although few indicated that women with breast cancer who undergo CPM live longer than those who do not (18%). Risk for contralateral breast cancer was accurately perceived by BRCA1/2 mutation carriers; however, this risk was substantially overestimated in women without a known mutation.

"Despite knowing that CPM does not clearly improve survival, women who have the procedure do so, in part, to extend their lives," the authors write.

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