Double Mastectomies For Breast Cancer Tripled In Last Decade

Posted on March 21, 2016


March 2016 -- The number of women opting to remove the cancerous breast and the healthy breast – a procedure known as contralateral prophylactic mastectomy or C.P.M. — has surged in recent years. In 2011, about 11 percent of women who were having a mastectomy for cancer chose C.P.M., compared with less than 2 percent in 1998.

Many breast cancer doctors are concerned by the trend, which they expect to increase. Women with early-stage breast cancer have the same odds of survival whether they have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and research suggests the risk of a cancer in the contralateral breast is low. But patients say they want to eliminate even the most negligible risk of a recurrence or cancer in their healthy breast.

Surgical complications can occur during reconstruction, which is often a protracted process, and many women have unrealistic expectations about what the new breasts will look and feel like after reconstruction. Surgery usually leaves the patient with no sensation in the breast area, and the extensive operations can also result in chronic pain.

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