According to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, between 1998 and 2003 in the U.S., there was a 150% increase in the number of women who opted to have both breasts surgically removed after being diagnosed with cancer of a single breast. The surgical procedure — Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy (CPM) may often be unnecessary, according to researchers, as most affected women never develop cancer in the second breast.
Scientists also warn that little evidence suggests that CPM surgery improves survival rates, and the surgery itself is highly invasive and irreversible. Researchers believe that advances in breast reconstruction techniques may help to persuade some women to have both breasts removed, and that many women make the decision to undergo CPM quickly and at a time of heightened vulnerability.
Authors of the study suggest that many women could benefit by treating only diagnosed breast cancer first, and making a determination regarding the second breast at a later time, when all options have been more carefully considered.
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