Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence Behind Rapid Rise of Double Mastectomies in US, Study Reports

Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence Behind Rapid Rise of Double Mastectomies in US, Study Reports
Over the last 10 years, the number of women with early stage breast cancer in the U.S. choosing to have both breasts removed in a preventive but aggressive procedure known as contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) has more than doubled. A research team from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), searching for reasons for this trend through an online breast cancer community, found that fear of recurrence was the driving force. The results were presented at the 2016 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, which took place Oct. 16–20 in Washington, D.C. Researchers also looked at community postings to see what information was being shared between patients. CPM is increasingly being used by patients at all stages of breast cancer, the researchers noted, even those with the earliest and lowest-risk cancers — Stage 0 ductal carcinoma in-situ, a non-invasive cancer of the lining of the breast milk duct usually treated by lumpectomy plus radiation therapy. Recent data suggests that up to 25 percent of newly diagnosed patients are undergoing CPM, representing about half of women undergoing mastectomies, the researchers also noted in a press release. In 2006, in contrast, only about 5 percent of breast cancer patients had CPM, accounting for 10% to 15% of mastectomy procedures performed that year. The research team searched for specific keywords, including "contralateral,"
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