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Many Young Breast Cancer Patients May Opt for a Mastectomy
Date:6/4/2013

TUESDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- Most young women with breast cancer choose to undergo a mastectomy, new research shows.

The other option is to have a lumpectomy, a surgical procedure that removes the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue, but spares most of the breast. Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston said women dealing with breast cancer at an early age have a unique set of medical and psychosocial concerns.

"Rates of mastectomy, particularly in young women with breast cancer, are on the rise, and it is not entirely clear why," study author Shoshana Rosenberg said in a Dana-Farber news release. "We were interested in learning from women who had a choice about surgery what factors were associated with their decisions."

The study involved nearly 300 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer when they were 40 years old or younger. All of the women, whose cancer ranged from stage 1 to stage 3, were given a choice between a mastectomy and lumpectomy.

Most women do not need to undergo radiation after a mastectomy. Many women who have this procedure go on to have additional reconstructive surgery. In contrast, following a lumpectomy women typically undergo radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Studies have shown overall survival rates for lumpectomy followed by radiation are the same as mastectomy, the researchers pointed out.

The study found that 62 percent of the women chose to have a single or double mastectomy rather than undergo a lumpectomy.

The women who chose to have a mastectomy often had a genetic mutation and this played a greater role in their medical decision. These women also tended to have at least two children and a higher level of anxiety. Among the other factors associated with women's decisions to opt for a mastectomy over a lumpectomy included an overabundance of the HER2 protein in tumor cells, signs that a tumor had spread to the l
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