From 1995 to 2005, the number of women with breast cancer in one breast that opted for removal of the other breast to prevent cancer doubled in New York State Hospitals. There was also a slight increase in the number of women at risk for breast cancer who underwent preventable breast surgery. This data was reported in Cancer, a journal for medical professionals.
The proactive approach was sought after by over 6000 women who had breast cancer in one breast and nearly 700 women who did not have breast cancer, but were at risk for breast cancer, according to N.Y. hospital discharge records and the New York State cancer registry.
Though, physicians warn that the risk of breast cancer in a second breast is 10-20% in up to a 30 year time period. So, preventable mastectomy may not be required, but is elective for some women. The appeal for preventable surgery may be four fold. First and foremost, is the desire to prevent cancer, surgery and radiation. Secondly, breast augmentation is a common procedure among women. Thus, there is another reason why preventable breast surgery is not intimidating for many women today. Women may desire to increase breast size and reduce the risk of breast cancer simultaneously. Women may also feel a greater sense of well-being following preventable breast surgery and augmentation. The number of women that proceeded with breast augmentation has not been documented. Yet, it is surmised that the numbers are comparable.
The number of women in the preventable surgery category is small, but the number of women who have elected preventable breast surgery has definitively doubled in New York from 1995 to 2005. Women interested in preventable breast surgery must be fully informed about the risks associated with surgery, complications that may arise and alternatives to having preventable breast surgery before undergoing the procedure. Preventable breast surgery and augmentation are separate procedures and both have a set of risks and benefits that must be thoroughly evaluated before making the decision to proceed with preventable breast surgery.