HealthDay News — According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons in Washington, DC, breast cancer patients are choosing to have their cancer-free breast removed at the same time as their affected breast for fear of cancer recurrence.

The rate of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) doubled in the United States in the past 10 years. Recent data suggest that up to 25% of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients undergo this procedure, the study authors noted. 

The researchers wanted to find out why so many patients decide to have the surgery. They looked at breast cancer patient postings in an online health community.

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The investigators found that, along with fear of cancer recurrence, many women believe that a double mastectomy is the best treatment for breast cancer. Some patients had already had a breast cancer recurrence and decided on preventive mastectomy in an effort to stop the cancer from returning for good. Others reported that plastic surgeons said CPM would help lead to better breast reconstruction surgery outcomes.

“Now we have a better understanding of what beliefs some patients hold, which is that CPM is the best treatment for breast cancer. We also were able to study what patients are saying to each other about CPM,” lead author Rebecca Marmor, MD, a general surgery resident at the University of California, San Diego, said in a news release from the American College of Surgeons. “Now that we have a sense of what they’re saying to each other, we want to work to correct their misconceptions.”


Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy is a Popular Treatment Choice Among Breast Cancer Patients in an Online Health Community [press release]. Washington, DC: American College of Surgeons; October 18, 2016.

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