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Most women who have double mastectomy don't need it, U-M study finds
Date:11/27/2012

ving both breasts removed, because they are at high risk of a new cancer developing in the other breast. But women without these indications are very unlikely to develop a second cancer in the healthy breast.

"For women who do not have a strong family history or a genetic finding, we would argue it's probably not appropriate to get the unaffected breast removed," says Hawley, who is also a research investigator at the Ann Arbor VA Center of Excellence in Clinical Care Management Research and a member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

A double mastectomy is a bigger operation that is associated with more complications and a more difficult recovery. Women might still need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy after their surgery treatments that are known to reduce the risk of cancer recurring which could delay their recovery further.

The study suggests that concern about recurrence is one of the biggest factors driving the decision to have this surgery. Hawley says it's important to educate women better that a contralateral mastectomy will not reduce the risk of recurrence. She and her colleagues have recently received a large grant from the National Cancer Institute that will in part allow them to develop a decision tool to help guide women through breast cancer treatment choices.

"I believe surgeons are telling their patients that a contralateral mastectomy won't reduce their risk of recurrence and that it is associated with higher morbidity. But this procedure is still done and it's done in women who don't need to have it done. A decision tool like ours will solicit common misconceptions about breast cancer treatment and give women feedback to help them fully understand the options and risks involved," says Hawley.


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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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