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More breast cancer patients opting for double mastectomies

More younger women in North Carolina and across the U.S. are opting for double mastectomies after developing unilateral breast cancer, according to a new study. The findings were published in JAMA Surgery on March 29.

Using data from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, researchers analyzed the cases of 1.2 million U.S. women who had been diagnosed with early invasive breast cancer in a single breast. The women were all age 20 or above and were diagnosed between 2004 and 2012. Of all women in the study, 58.4 percent opted for a lumpectomy, 32.9 percent had the affected breast removed and 8.7 percent underwent a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, or CPM. Younger women were more likely than older women to have a CPM, with 29.3 percent of women ages 20 to 29 opting to have both breasts removed, compared with only 2.4 percent of women 70 or above. Double mastectomies have also become more common in recent years. Between the years of 2004 and 2012, the number of women 20 to 44 who had CPMs jumped from 10.5 percent to 33.3 percent.

Breast cancer experts say that several factors may lead younger women to choose a double mastectomy, including life-long risk of cancer recurrence, the possible stress of future cancer scares and genetic risk factors. However, some breast surgeons believe doctors need to do a better job of explaining to patients that it may be unnecessary to remove both breasts.

Breast cancer patients depend on their doctors to give them quality medical advice. If a doctor does not properly explain all medical options, a patient could end up with a worsened condition or undergo unnecessary invasive treatments. Patients in this situation may wish to speak to an attorney about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: CNN, "Study finds 'staggering' rise in mastectomies in these states," Jacqueline Howard, March 31, 2017

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