According to a new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, despite an increase in the number of women undergoing a double mastectomy for early-stage breast cancer, the procedure does not reduce the risk of mortality compared with breast-conserving therapy with radiation.
In the study, researchers identified 189,734 women diagnosed with early-stage unilateral breast cancer between 1998 and 2011 from the California Cancer Registry. Researchers followed the patients for an average of approximately 89 months.
They found that the rate of women with early-stage breast cancer undergoing double mastectomies rose from 2% to 12.3% in 1998 and 2011, respectively. Women aged 40 and over opting for the procedure rose from 3.6% to 33% in 1998 and 2011, respectively, making this group have the highest increase. Furthermore, the rate of women undergoing unilateral mastectomies decreased during this period.
In addition, the team found that women who chose to undergo a double mastectomy did not have a lower risk of mortality compared with women who underwent breast-conserving therapy plus radiation. Women who underwent a unilateral mastectomy were found to have a higher risk of death.
Having a double mastectomy for early-stage breast cancer is not linked to a lower risk of death than breast-conserving therapy plus radiation, but still there is an increase in the number of women undergoing the procedure. These are the findings of a new study published in JAMA.
This is not the first study to question the benefits of a double mastectomy, or bilateral mastectomy – the removal of both breasts – for breast cancer patients. Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study published in JAMA Surgery claiming the procedure is unnecessary for the majority of women.