Is fear of breast cancer recurrence prompting many women to remove healthy breast tissue? Authors of a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine write that despite evidence that prophylactic mastectomy may not improve survival rates an increasing number of young women with breast cancer are choosing to undergo the preventive surgery.
The researchers surveyed 123 women 40 years old and younger, who were diagnosed with breast cancer on one side but chose to have both breasts removed. Most of the women had stage 1 or stage 2 breast cancer. The survey included questions about the women's health history, overall knowledge about breast cancer, fear level, and the reason for choosing prophylactic mastectomy.
98% of the women said they had their healthy breast removed to decrease the risk of recurrence there. 94% said they made the decision to improve survival but only 18% actually believed that patients who undergo prophylactic mastectomy live longer than those who do not.
The researchers say almost all of the women overestimated their actual risk. They're calling for better interventions and education to help women make the best evidence-based decisions for their health.
I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with the health news that matters to you.