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Rise In Mastectomy Rate May Not Be Good News In All Cases
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The number of women undergoing mastectomies has increased dramatically over the past few years even though diagnosis rates have remained largely stable. The news is good in some cases, but some healthcare providers are concerned some women and their doctors might be rushing into this invasive treatment option when the need isn’t really present.
Researchers say the rate of women undergoing mastectomies increased by 36 percent from 2005 to 2013. The rate of double mastectomies is also on the rise. Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates the rate of double mastectomies has tripled. Researchers have also found that the rate of women obtaining double mastectomies without a diagnosis of breast cancer has climbed from about two per 100,000 to about four per 100,000.
There are a number of reasons why this more invasive treatment option is being selected by women and their doctors in greater numbers. One involves what some are calling the “Angelina Jolie” effect. When this Hollywood icon was diagnosed with breast cancer, she opted for a prophylactic double mastectomy. The rise in use of genetic testing to determine if a breast cancer positive woman also tests positive for a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation gets some of the credit, as well. These mutations can indicate the likelihood of breast cancer’s recurrence after treatment or the emergence of cancer in the initially unaffected breast.
While most healthcare providers say genetic testing is a vital prognostic tool, some worry certain women may be jumping into invasive surgery that may not be entirely necessary. Researchers have found, after all, that some women are opting for mastectomies even when a lumpectomy is recommended.
An estimated 246,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. About 40,000 women die from the disease. While mastectomies may be recommended in certain cases, women are urged to discuss their treatment options closely with their healthcare providers. When indicated, double mastectomies can prove lifesaving. This procedure, however, isn’t without its share of potential complications. Opting for this more invasive route opens a woman up to risks for bleeding and infection. It is recommended that women think carefully about the potential benefits versus the risks. Some women, for example, may be presented with a 6 percent risk of cancer appearing in the unaffected risk, but are opting for double mastectomies anyway.
Women who are concerned about breast cancer should discuss their risks with their healthcare providers. The best treatment or preventative measures will hinge on a woman’s personal risks.
Lewisville/Flower Mound Oncology Group, a division of Choice Cancer Care – is an independently owned and operated oncology practice that is completely focused on unique, comprehensive patient care.
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