JAMA Surgery recently published the results of a study showing that most women who have a double mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis do so despite a very low risk of developing cancer in the healthy breast. Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Monica Morrow, Chief of the Breast Service, was one of the co-authors of the study.
Researchers looked at 1,447 women treated for breast cancer who had not had a recurrence and found that nearly 70 percent of those who received a double mastectomy did not have a medically valid reason to undergo the procedure, such as a family history of breast or ovarian cancer or a genetic test indicating increased risk for these diseases.
They note that for many of these women, worry about cancer recurrence appears to have driven the decision to have a double mastectomy, even though there is no evidence that the procedure can reduce risk.
Memorial Sloan Kettering breast surgeon Tari King talked to CBS Online about the study and the growing popularity of double mastectomy surgeries, a procedure called contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM).
As Dr. King said in our recent article addressing anxiety and the public conversation’s role in the rise in CPM procedures, “There can sometimes be a disconnect between the information that women are receiving from friends and family and the information they receive from their physicians. The strongest point we can make to empower women to consider less-extensive surgery is that there is no survival advantage to CPM, and that removing a healthy breast is not better treatment.”