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Surgeons and health care settings influence type of breast cancer surgery women undergo
Date:4/30/2014

TORONTO, April 30, 2014 Breast cancer is one of the few major illnesses for which physicians may not recommend a specific treatment option. North American women are more likely to opt for precautionary breast surgery when physicians don't specifically counsel against it, according to a new study.

The research, presented today at the American Society of Breast Surgeons Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, also demonstrates how clarity during consultations and the capability of clinical facilities also play important roles influencing a woman's breast cancer treatment choices.

There is more than one type of preventative breast surgery but this study looked only at cases where cancer has been diagnosed in only one breast. This form prophylactic breast surgery, called a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, entails removing the healthy breast at the same time as the cancerous breast. The procedure can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in women who have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancers and in women who have a genetic mutation that makes breast cancer more likely.

"While effective for such groups," explained Dr. Andrea Covelli, lead author and a University of Toronto general surgery resident whose research work was supervised by Dr. Nancy Baxter of St. Michael's Hospital. "The number of prophylactic mastectomies across North America has risen among women without these underlying conditions among women who have only an average risk of developing cancer in their non-cancerous breast."

Previous national studies have shown that instances of prophylactic breast surgery among early-stage, average risk women have increased nearly twelvefold in the United States over the last decade. In Canada, rates increased by 140 per cent between 2008 and 2010.

Dr. Covelli interviewed 45 surgeons in North America to identify factors that determine the course of treatment.

In the United States, some states l
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Contact: Geoff Koehler
koehlerg@smh.ca
416-864-6060 x6537
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert  

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