Rates of contralateral mastectomy—preventive removal of a woman’s healthy breast when she has unilateral mastectomy to treat cancer in the opposite breast—have skyrocketed in the past several years. It’s become quite controversial, because for women of average risk for breast cancer, contralateral mastectomy doesn’t improve overall survival or the risk of recurrence.
(see June 3, 2014 blog "ContralateralProphylactic Mastectomy: Deciding with Your Head or Your Heart?")
Now the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS) has issued a position statement recommending against contralateral preventive mastectomy for women of average risk for breast cancer.
The ASBS is encouraging a greater focus on patient education to help women who face mastectomy to understand the risks and benefits of removing their remaining healthy breast. For most women who have cancer in one breast, the odds of a diagnosis in the opposite breast is 2 to 6% over the next 10 years. The organization’s statement recommends that physicians ensure their patients are engaged in decision making, and have all the information they need to make that decision.
The ASBS statement states that contralateral prophylactic mastectomy:
Whatever you decide to do, take the time you need to learn about and understand your options, and the risks and benefits of keeping or removing your healthy breast.