Most Women Satisfied With Having Their Healthy Breasts Removed
Two out of three women who have their healthy breasts removed to reduce their risk of breast cancer say they would most likely undergo the procedure again, according to a new study. However, a significant minority of women say that they regret having the irreversible surgery, which is called prophylactic mastectomy.
Women who are considered candidates for the preventive surgery are usually those who have had several family members develop breast cancer and die from the disease at an early age.
Researchers stress that this is not a decision to be taken lightly. ”Women need to weigh the irreversibility of the decision and the potential adverse effects,” they state.
A recent study conducted at the Mayo Clinic showed that preventive mastectomy can reduce the risk of breast cancer by about 90% in women with a family history of the disease.
Researchers mailed questionnaires to 609 women who had undergone prophylactic mastectomy at the Mayo Clinic between 1960 and 1993. Of the 572 women who responded, most had a family history of breast cancer.
An average of more than 14 years after having surgery, 70% of the women said that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their decision to have prophylactic mastectomy and 67% said they would have the surgery again.
Women who were satisfied with the decision to remove their breasts listed several reasons, including peace of mind, a reduced risk of cancer and having few problems with the surgery or with breast reconstruction.
Many dissatisfied women reported problems with the surgery or with breast reconstruction, a negative impact on body image as well as a lack of adequate support and information about the procedure.
Journal of the American Medical Association July 19, 2000;284:319-324.