Breast cancer is not only a health deteriorating disease, it is a fear factor created by genetic connections. Black women with the breast cancer susceptibility gene (BRCA), according to one study, have a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers than the general population. Recently JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded that the increasingly popular prevention method of double mastectomies does not seem to be associated with higher survival rates.
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This survival method of treatment has become a trending operation, especially for women under 40. “The rates of double mastectomy to treat one-sided breast cancer have increased at a rate of 14 percent a year,” says study coauthor Allison Kurian, M.D., M.Sc., from the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The research initiative involved studying a database of over 189,000 women in California who were diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer (in one breast) within the past decade. The study involved comparing those who underwent a single vs. a double mastectomy vs. traditional radiation methods, and following their health journey afterwards for up to seven years.
The results of the study produced a surprising shocker that the body-annihilating procedure may not be worth it. “Women who had double mastectomy did not seem to have any better survival than women who had the other two procedure types,” says study coauthor Scarlett Gomez, Ph.D., research scientist at The Cancer Prevention Institute of California.
“Although the rate of double mastectomy has increased substantially throughout the state of California over the last decade, women are not actually gaining any better survival because of this surgery,” says Kurian. “And this is a surgery which has a higher complication rate, so it is somewhat concerning to see that there is no associated survival benefit in our study.”
So does that mean you shouldn’t get a double mastectomy? No. What this means is that you should be aware of all of your options and their proven outcomes. Discussing the best method for you with your doctor is always the best way to determine your chosen prevention and treatment. What works for some doesn’t always work for everyone.
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