Study on Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy Shows Slight Benefit

Patients with cancer in one breast are increasingly choosing to to have a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) to remove the risk of the cancer appearing in the healthy breast. 

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that with the surgery, 0.13 to 0.59 years of life expectancy were added to women with stage l breast cancer. Women with stage ll breast cancer had an increase of 0.08 to 0.29 years if they opted for the CPM. The procedure was better for younger patients and for women with stage l and ER-negative breast cancer.

Todd M. Tuttle, M.D., of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, is a senior researcher on the study. He hopes the results will help women who have unilateral breast cancer to make informed decisions with their doctors. 

In the group that was studied, the survival difference after twenty years between women who opted for the surgery and those who chose not to do the surgery was no more than 1 percent.

In an editorial accompanying the article, Stephen G. Pauker and Mohamed Alseiri of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, wrote that the patient's preference, values and expectations of the surgery are to be considered as well as the benefits in order to make an informed decision as to whether or not to have the procedure.

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