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Most Cancer Survivors Would Sacrifice Healthy Breast Again: Study
Date:4/29/2011

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Despite concerns regarding appearance, few breast cancer survivors who opted for a double mastectomy as a precautionary measure regretted their decision decades later, a new study finds.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., questioned hundreds of women who sacrificed a healthy breast in the hope of avoiding another cancer. Twenty years after their surgery, 97 percent said they would make the same decision again.

"The real question is, how did they feel in the long run?" said researcher Dr. Judy C. Boughey, breast surgeon and associate professor of surgery. "I want my patients to do what they will be happy with in 10 or 20 years."

Previous research found that women who had undergone prophylactic double mastectomy were satisfied with their decision soon after the surgery. This new research shows that those who were "comfortable with that decision still are many years after," said Boughey.

The findings were to be presented Friday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons in Washington, D.C. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

With today's improved breast reconstruction techniques, women are likely "to be even happier with the results" than they were in decades past, noted Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who is familiar with the findings.

Breast cancer affects about one in eight U.S. women, according to the National Cancer Institute. Nearly 90 percent will survive five years or more, according to the agency.

Surgical treatments include lumpectomy (excision of the tumor and surrounding tissue), mastectomy (removal of the diseased breast) or double mastectomy (removal of both breasts). A prophylactic double mastectomy does not guarantee that the cancer will
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