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More Women Having Other Breast Removed
Date:9/28/2009

But experts say there's no proof that procedure extends survival of cancer patients,,

MONDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Many more women are deciding to have a healthy breast removed after being diagnosed with breast cancer in the other.

But there's little evidence to suggest that this practice is actually beneficial in terms of improving survival, say the authors of a study published Sept. 28 in Cancer.

The researchers, led by Dr. Stephen B. Edge, director of the Breast Center at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., set out to determine how often women elected to undergo prophylactic mastectomy in New York between 1995 and 2005. Prophylactic removal of a non-cancerous breast or the ovaries and anti-estrogen therapy can reduce a woman's risk for developing breast cancer, according to the study's authors.

In women with a diagnosis of breast cancer, the rate for removal of the opposite breast, known as contralateral mastectomy, more than doubled during that time period, from 5.6 percent in 1995 to 14.1 percent in 2005.

But the procedure is still uncommon, the authors noted, estimating that about 1.9 percent of women with breast cancer diagnosed in 1995 or 1996 had a contralateral mastectomy, compared with 4.2 percent a decade later.

Women who had a preventive mastectomy in the other breast tended to be younger than the average age for women who had a therapeutic mastectomy (49 versus 61 years). They were also more likely to be white and to hold private insurance than were other women with breast cancer.

"There's not much evidence that contralateral prophylactic mastectomy will benefit survival," said Dr. Shawna Willey, chief of breast surgery and director of the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. "For a woman, it's often a knee-jerk emotional reaction when t
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