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Mastectomy Rates Down Overall, New Study Finds
Date:6/15/2010

While previous studies show opposite trend, latest one reflects entire U.S. population, experts note

TUESDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- While some recent research has documented an upswing in mastectomy rates among women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, a new study comes to a different conclusion.

"We found that mastectomy rates were continuing to decrease overall nationwide," said study author Dr. Elizabeth Habermann, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine in Minneapolis. Her report is published in the June 14 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Why the discrepancy? Previous studies showing an increase in the drastic procedure, according to Habermann, have come from leading institutions but drawn all of the patients from a single hospital. "Often single institutions publish research that is not reflective of what is occurring nationwide," she explained.

In her study, Habermann and her colleagues looked at a database known as the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry, a well-respected source of medical data. While it includes about 26 percent of U.S. residents, Habermann said, it is representative of the entire population.

She zeroed in on 233,754 patients diagnosed between 2000 and 2006 with either ductal carcinoma in situ or stage 1 to stage 3 unilateral breast cancer. "Mastectomy rates decreased, from 41 percent in 2000 to 37 percent in 2006," she said.

Curiously, the researchers found that the rates of women opting to have the opposite, healthy breast removed as a precaution actually rose, going from 2.5 percent in 2000 to 5.7 percent in 2006.

"It appears women who have unilateral breast cancer either are choosing the less aggressive breast-conserving surgery [lumpectomy] or the most aggressive, which is to have both breasts removed," Habermann said.

Not surprisingly, wome
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