"Sometimes, we will recommend it in those who need mastectomy on one side and because of body symmetry issues, the other breast would be too big" once the cancerous breast is removed, he added.
Tuttle's advice is in line with advice from the Society of Surgical Oncology and the American Cancer Society. Many women overestimate their risk of getting cancer in the second breast, according to the Society of Surgical Oncology.
In March, a study led by researchers at Wake Forest University found that most women diagnosed with breast cancer who also chose to have their unaffected breast removed said they didn't regret their decision. And they said their quality of life equaled that of women who chose not to have a preventive mastectomy, according to the study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Dr. S. Eva Singletary, professor of surgical oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said the increase in requests for the preventive mastectomies found in the new study "rings true clinically" for her patient population.
Singletary credits the increase in second mastectomies to "an improvement in breast reconstruction techniques," among other factors. Women who opt for immediate reconstruction after a mastectomy may be more likely to choose contralateral mastectomy and get the second breast reconstructed at the same time, sometimes to achieve better symmetry, particularly if they are heavy, she said.
In another study, published last week in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers reported that increased exposure to sunlight, which boosts vitamin D levels, may reduce the risk of advanced breast cancer in light-skinned women.
The study compared 1,788 breast cancer patients in San Francisco with a control group of 2,129 women who did not have breast cancer. The study participants had a wide range of natural skin colors. Vi
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