Studies show an increasing surgery among breast cancer patients lacks significant benefits, researchers said at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium earlier today.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine found a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) only provides a modest increase in life expectancy among breast cancer patients.
CPM is a procedure that removes the unaffected breast in patients with unilateral breast cancer, or cancer in just one breast.
“We suspect that many of the women who elect to undergo CPM are acting on the belief the surgery will substantially reduce their overall risk of dying of breast cancer,” said Robert G. Prosnitz, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Radiation Oncology in the Perelman School of Medicine.
According to the study, researchers say the surgery could also reduce the quality-adjusted life expectancy – a measure of life expectancy that takes into account a patient’s quality of life.
In recent years, the number of CPM procedures among women recently diagnosed with non-hereditary unilateral breast cancer increased 150 percent. Researchers examined the impact of CPM on life expectancy and quality-adjusted life expectancy among these women.
Prosnitz said the study shows the risk of death from cancer in just one breast far outweighs risk of death from breast cancer potentially developing in the other breast. He also adds the slight increase in life expectancy from a CPM may “ultimately be negated” by a reduced quality of life.
Due to the new findings, researchers plan to develop and test decision aids to help patients better assess their treatment options.