“Facing Cancer, A Stark Choice.” By Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times

In the 1970s, women’s health advocates were highly suspicious of mastectomies. They argued that surgeons — in those days, pretty much an all-male club — were far too quick to remove a breast after a diagnosis of cancer, with disfiguring results. But today, the pendulum has swung the other way. A new generation of women want doctors to take a more aggressive approach, and more and more are asking that even healthy breasts be removed to ward off cancer before it can strike. Researchers estimate that as many as 15 percent of women with breast cancer — 30,000 a year — opt to have both breasts removed, up from less than 3 percent in the late 1990s. Notably, it appears that the vast majority of these women have never received genetic testing or counseling and are basing the decision on exaggerated fears about their risk of recurrence.

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  • “Extreme Breast Cancer Prevention: Should At-Risk Women Have Both Breasts Removed?” by Barron H. Lerner, Huffington Post.
  • Population-based registry study finds that women with early-stage breast cancer are more likely to survive if they had a lumpectomy rather than mastectomy. Source: Hwang ES, et al “Survival after lumpectomy and mastectomy for early stage invasive breast cancer: The effect of age and hormone receptor status” Cancer 2013; DOI: 10.1002/cncr.27795.


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