MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Double mastectomy rates have doubled over the last 10 years, including some women who’ve opted to remove a healthy breast after discovering early-stage breast cancer in the other, but the extreme measure may not be doing them much good.
Preventive mastectomy has grown in popularity, even winning an endorsement of sorts from Angelina Jolie, who announced earlier this year that she had the procedure done after a DNA test revealed that she had increased risk for developing cancer.
With the increased interest in DNA screening, more women may choose to remove healthy breasts before they have a chance to become problematic, but the risk of breast cancer recurring in healthy tissue is very low, according to research presented this week at the 2013 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons.
At best, patients who underwent preventive mastectomy gained 6 months of life over their peers, regardless of age or cancer stage.
"Because many women are driven by their fears of contracting a second cancer in their healthy breast, they choose a double mastectomy, the more aggressive treatment," according to an American College of Surgeons press release. "This procedure is a bigger operation associated with a longer recovery period and potentially more complications. Thus, experts are concerned that some patients are being over-treated with a prophylactic procedure."
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