Double Mastectomies on the Rise

Lack of evidence that it increases survival for most women
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2007 4:46 AM CDT
This image made available by the Duke University Department of Medicine shows a right breast MRI from a 55 year old woman with extreme breast density. The arrow points to a 2.0 cm rapidly enhancing lesion...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – More women are choosing to have double mastectomies despite a lack of evidence that such a procedure increases survival for most women, according to a study in the Journal of Oncology. The number of women choosing the procedure after an initial tumor was found in one breast increased 150% over five years. Doctors usually recommend removal of a tumor and surrounding tissue for localized breast cancer, not a mastectomy.

Some speculate that improvements in reconstruction have helped spur the increase, while others believe women can be so "traumatized" by cancer that they want to avoid any future experience will the illness at all costs. But women need to remember the breast "is a sexual organ," cautions one expert, and that removal has serious "implications" for "sex life and sexuality."