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Contralateral prophylactic mastectomy offers limited gains for breast cancer patients
Date:12/7/2011

(SAN ANTONIO, Texas) -- Contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM), a procedure that removes the unaffected breast in patients with cancer in one breast, provides only a modest increase in life expectancy, according to a new study by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In fact, the study shows that the surgery may actually reduce the quality-adjusted life expectancy a measure of life expectancy that takes into account quality of life among women whose breast cancer is not hereditary. Since only around 10% of breast cancers are known to be caused by genetic factors, the findings of the study apply to the vast majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer who are treated with mastectomy.

The findings of the study will be reported on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Using a computer-based decision analysis, researchers examined the impact of CPM on life expectancy and quality-adjusted life expectancy among groups of women with newly diagnosed unilateral breast cancer and no known genetic predisposition to the disease. Studies show that among these patients, there has been a 150 percent increase in this type of surgery in recent years.

The authors hope the findings will assist patients and physicians in making informed decisions about treatment strategies, based on a clear understanding of the actual benefits and risks involved in preventive mastectomies, and the potential for the surgery to have an adverse impact on women's quality of life.

"We suspect that many of the women who elect to undergo CPM are acting on the belief the surgery will substantially reduce their overall risk of dying of breast cancer," said senior author Robert G. Prosnitz, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "However, our study shows that a woman's risk of death from her primary b
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Contact: Katie Delach
katie.delach@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5964
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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