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Double Mastectomy not tied to Increased Survival Rate from Breast Cancer

Update Date: Jul 17, 2014 01:12 PM EDT

A new study is reporting that undergoing a double mastectomy as a preventive measure does not necessarily improve one's survival rate from breast cancer. The team from the University of Minnesota used a model to calculate life expectancy in women with recurrent stage one or stage two cancers and concluded that removing breast tissue did not add years to one's life.

For this study, the team set out to examine if breast cancer patients have improved outcomes after undergoing a double mastectomy. Evidence have suggested that when there are cancer cells in one breast, removing the other breast can reduce the likelihood of developing cancer in that breast by 90 percent. However, only very little studies have analyzed the relationship between a double mastectomy and life expectancy.

The researchers monitored more than 100,000 female patients over 20 years. They used their model to predict survival results and found that the overall difference in the patient's survival at 20 years post-diagnosis between women who had one breast removed and women who had both breasts removed was less than one percent.

"We found fairly convincing evidence that there really is no meaningful long-term survival benefit for the vast majority of women with breast cancer by having their opposite breast removed," said study researcher Dr. Todd Tuttle, chief of surgical oncology at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, reported by CBS News. "Most patients have very minimal increases in life expectancy, one to seven months."

The researchers noted that they did not include women with the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes, which have been tied to increasing one's risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The team also did not look into the patient's life quality, surgical complications or fear that could have persuaded the patient to get a preventive mastectomy.

The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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