Study May Help Mastectomy Dilemma

Research identifies factors likely to imperil second breast
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2009 10:22 AM CST
A doctor studies a mammogram. Scientists are seeking ways to identify women who would benefit from preventive mastectomies.   (AP Photo/BBN Technologies)
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(Newser) – Researchers alarmed by a spike in potentially unnecessary double mastectomies have identified three risk factors that might help breast cancer patients make better decisions about whether to have a healthy breast removed, the Houston Chronicle reports. The research was motivated by an earlier study that revealed 80% of women who had preventive double mastectomies had little or no risk of cancer spreading to the other breast.

“Our goal is to help women make more informed decisions," said the new study’s lead author. Researchers believe women who may benefit from preventive mastectomies include patients who have more than one tumor in the same breast; whose tumors started in the milk-producing part of the breast; and who score high in a complex equation of risk factors for breast cancer.