More women with breast cancer in an early stage are now getting contralateral mastectomies. However, depending on the state they live in, women are less or more likely to undergo such a procedure. Researchers analyzed these trends and put up a study, which was published in the journal JAMA Surgery.
Women choose to have both breasts removed
For the study, researchers looked at data from 2004 and 2012. This involved 1.2 million women diagnosed during the early stage of the disease, with cancer only in a breast. All around the country, between 11 and 33 percent of women aged between 20 to 44 chose to have contralateral mastectomies. This means that both the affected and the healthy breasts are removed.
Women older than 45 were more likely to undergo the procedures, and some of them chose to have both breasts removed. However, this is not advisable. Doctors say it is not necessary to remove both breasts if the woman has cancer only in one. If the breast cancer risk is not genetic, such a practice is not recommended.
However, researchers discovered that the trend of removing both breasts is popular among all women. They identified the states with more than 40 percent of women who opted for complete mastectomies. These include Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Tennessee.
On the other hand, there are the states were less than 25 percent of female cancer sufferers choose to have both their breasts removed. These are Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Wyoming.
Researchers cannot explain this phenomenon
The study does not answer the bugging question – why do women choose to have both breasts removed, even if they do not have to? It also compared the rates of reconstructive surgeries with that of contralateral mastectomies and it noticed a discrepancy. Women in the Midwest are more likely to undergo the mastectomy, but those in the Northeast choose to have their breast reconstructed.
Researchers did not look at the genetic history of the participants, so they do not know who had a genetic risk of breast cancer. However, women with higher incomes might choose to undergo contralateral mastectomies, as they want to benefit from a better care or under the influence of other people.
Therefore, a contralateral mastectomy might be a procedure which lowers the risk of developing cancer in the other breast. However, this applies only to women with a genetic risk, and this is what they should keep in mind.
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