More Women Electing Extra Cancer Surgery

Double mastectomies on the rise, despite less-invasive options
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2008 8:57 AM CST
Pink M&M's are seen with their bag Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007, in Trenton, N.J. It seems just about every product you can buy _ from Indianapolis Colts mini-helmets to M&M candies _ is available in pink...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – More women are going to extremes after a breast cancer diagnosis, opting for double mastectomies instead of single ones or mere lumpectomies, the Washington Post reports. The number rose 150% over 5 years, despite evidence that less-invasive treatments are just as effective in saving lives. "I didn't want to be sitting around for the rest of my life waiting for the cancer to come back," said one 43-year-old nurse who opted for the more radical procedure.

Doctors say the surgery reduces the risk of recurrence, but not the chance of dying from breast cancer, since second breast cancers are usually treated effectively. "We think in America that more is always better," protests a UCLA breast expert. "I think it's turning back the clock." But a Johns Hopkins colleague applauds women taking control of their medical care. Improvements in reconstructive surgery, she notes, make the mastectomy option more palatable.