Prophylactic Mastectomy Rare Among High-Risk Women

Contralateral mastectomy for women with diagnosed breast cancer increasing
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- It is relatively uncommon for women at high risk for breast cancer, but without diagnosed disease, to opt for prophylactic mastectomy, but women diagnosed with breast cancer are increasingly likely to undergo contralateral mastectomy, according to a study published online Sept. 28 in Cancer.

Colleen C. McLaughlin, Ph.D., of New York State Department of Health in Troy, and colleagues analyzed discharge and cancer registry data in the state of New York from 1995 to 2005 and identified 6,275 women who underwent prophylactic mastectomy.

While 19 percent of the women had no identifiable personal history of breast cancer, 81 percent had been diagnosed with the disease. Of these, 84 percent had invasive breast cancer and 16 percent had ductal carcinoma in situ, the researchers discovered. Over time, women with a diagnosis of breast cancer were more likely than those without such a diagnosis to undergo contralateral, prophylactic mastectomy, the investigators note.

"Reports in the general media regarding prophylactic mastectomies among young women at high risk of breast cancer are fairly common," the authors write. "Because population-based data on the number of high-risk women are not available, we cannot calculate a rate of prophylactic surgery; however, given that New York is home to approximately nine million women, it appears from the current analysis that the surgery is actually fairly uncommon whereas the use of contralateral mastectomy in women with breast cancer is increasing."

The authors reported partial financial support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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