A newly presented research study suggests than nearly 70 percent of women with breast cancer who elect to have both breasts removed as a precaution actually have a small risk of contracting cancer in the healthy breast. The procedure is called a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM).
Worry about recurrence is behind the decision, but researchers claim the risk is low—actually out of proportion to real risk.
The take-away message: having both breasts removed when cancer is found in one does not reduce the risk of cancer developing in the healthy breast, which is less than one percent. That opposes eight percent for the cancerous breast.
So, which women should really consider having both breasts removed?
While there are no specific guidelines for who should undergo CPM, the Society for Surgical Oncology recommends it be considered in women with a BRCA1, BRCA2 or other gene mutations known to raise breast cancer risk. Women with a family history of breast cancer are also recommended to consider CPM.
For some physicians, this study confirms what they already knew in clinical practice which is that removing the healthy breast has zero influence on surviving the present time episode of cancer as breast cancer does not appear to spread from one to the other breast.
The hope of this information is to provide doctors with solid data with which to allay fears in women and make more efficient clinical decisions.