Most of the women -- 75 percent -- chose breast-conserving surgery initially. According to Morrow, some women who chose breast-conserving surgery eventually had a mastectomy, and these were typically women with larger, stage 2 tumors. The choice did not appear to be affected by race, education or where a woman was treated, Morrow noted.
Of those who initially underwent mastectomy, many could identify the reason that mastectomy was the best option for them, suggesting that it was something discussed in detail with their doctor.
Almost 9 percent of the women chose to have a mastectomy because of personal preference.
Nearly one in five women sought a second opinion, and women with higher education levels were more likely to do so. But, regardless of education level, the researchers found that getting a second opinion was rarely a deciding factor in choosing the type of treatment.
"Most of the time, a second opinion didn't make a difference in the recommendations that a woman is offered," she said. "So if you feel comfortable with your surgeon, don't feel obligated to seek a second opinion."
Additional surgery was required in about 38 percent of women who first underwent a lumpectomy, according to the survey.
"This study addresses the concern that mastectomy is overused, and I really don't think it's being overused," said Dr. Nora Jaskowiak, an associate professor of surgery and the surgical head of the University of Chicago Breast Center. "Surgeons definitely try to save as many breasts as is reasonable to do."
"Patients and surgeons can discuss the options, and together they will make the best decision for that woman," she said.
All rights reserved