Young breast cancer patients often opt for mastectomy

A new study of young women with breast cancer has found that most chose to have a mastectomy rather than a surgical procedure that would conserve the breast, researchers will report at the 49th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, May 31-June 4, in Chicago.

Shoshana Rosenberg, ScD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health, and her colleagues evaluated 277 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 or younger, who reported having a choice between a mastectomy and a breast conserving lumpectomy, and whose cancer ranged from stage 1 to stage 3. She will present the findings (abstract 6507) on Monday, June 3, 10:15 am CT, S404, McCormick Place.

"Women diagnosed with breast cancer at an early age typically have a different set of medical and psychosocial issues and concerns than do older women," said Rosenberg. "We were interested in learning from women who had a choice about surgery what factors were associated with their decisions."

A lumpectomy involves surgically removing the tumor and some of the healthy tissue around it, but it typically spares most of the breast. It is standard to treat the area with following surgery to destroy any remaining . A mastectomy removes most or all of the breast, and possibly chest muscle and some lymph nodes to prevent spread of the disease. Most women do not need radiation therapy after a mastectomy, though many chose to have additional surgery to reconstruct the breast. Studies have shown that the overall survival rates for lumpectomy followed by radiation compared with mastectomy are the same.

Overall, the researchers found that 172 of the women, or 62 percent, opted to have either a single or double mastectomy. Factors associated with choosing a mastectomy included having a genetic mutation, an overabundance of the in , signs of spread to the lymph nodes, higher tumor grade, lower , having two or more children, increased anxiety, and greater patient involvement in the decision. Other factors of interest, including age, race, marital status, tumor size, having an estrogen-sensitive tumor, having a first degree relative with breast or ovarian cancer, fear of recurrence, and depression, were not significantly associated with having a mastectomy.

"Rates of mastectomy, particularly in young women with breast cancer, are on the rise, and it is not entirely clear why," said Rosenberg. "Our data suggest that disease and genetic factors may be related to choice, as well as anxiety and how the decision was made. Further research is clearly warranted in an effort to help ensure women can make informed, quality decisions about their therapy."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Breast CA tx delays still more common for poor, uninsured

Apr 25, 2013

(HealthDay)—For young women with breast cancer, a longer treatment delay time (TDT) is associated with decreased survival, especially for African-American women, those with public or no insurance, and those ...

Recommended for you

Putting the brakes on cancer

18 hours ago

A study led by the University of Dundee, in collaboration with researchers at our University, has uncovered an important role played by a tumour suppressor gene, helping scientists to better understand how ...

Peanut component linked to cancer spread

19 hours ago

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that a component of peanuts could encourage the spread and survival of cancer cells in the body.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.