As you may know, there has been an increase in the numbers of women who opt for prophylactic mastectomies--both choosing a mastectomy when the medical/surgical advice is that smaller surgery is equally safe and choosing to have bilateral mastectomies when only one breast has cancer. This is especially striking when one reads the studies that suggest that some women, making this decision, believe that they are reducing their risk of death from breast cancer. This is rarely the case. There may be other good reasons to choose to have a mastectomy/mastectomies, but the risk is almost always from the known cancer and the possibility that it has or will spread to other parts of the body.
Here is an interesting article from The Oncologist about these choices. I give you the abstract and then a link to read more:
Current Knowledge on Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy
Among Women with Sporadic Breast Cancer
ABENAA M. BREWSTER,a PATRICIA A. PARKER
Abstract The use of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) in the U.S. among patients with unilateral invasive breast cancer increased by 150% from 1993 to 2003. Although CPM has been shown to reduce the risk for developing contralateral breast cancer, there is conflicting evidence on whether or not it reduces breast cancer mortality or overall death. The increase in the CPM rate is especially concerning among women with early-stage sporadic breast cancer who have a minimal annual risk for developing contralateral breast cancer, and for many of these women the risk for distant metastatic disease outweighs the risk for contralateral breast cancer. The lack of information about the clinical value of CPM in women with sporadic breast cancer is an important public health problem. This review evaluates current data on the clinical indications for CPM and long-term patient satisfaction and psychosocial outcomes. Gaps in knowledge about the clinical value of CPM, including patient- and physician-related psychosocial factors that influence the decision-making process of CPM among women with sporadic breast cancer, are highlighted.