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“Prophylactic Breast Removal Confusion”

Celebrities Angelina Jolie, Christina Applegate, Kathy Bates, Wanda Sykes, Giuliana Rancic, Ann Jillian and Sharon Osbourne have had contralateral prophylactic breast mastectomies (CPM), which put the spot light on the procedure.  Younger women with breast cancer are increasingly choosing to have their healthy breast removed because of mistaken beliefs about the effectiveness of mastectomy and unfounded fears about the risks for contralateral disease.  Even though women under 40 with breast cancer may know that contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) does not improve survival, they opt for it anyway in hopes of extending their life.  Annals of Internal Medicine published  a cross-sectional survey of 123 women with early bilateral breast cancer, who chose to undergo contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM), in which the overwhelming majority cited improving their chances of survival (94%) and reducing the risk that cancer will develop in the other breast (98%) as their primary reasons for deciding to have the additional surgery.  These findings emphasize the need for doctors to take the time to explain the true risks and benefits of CPM and to clarify patient confusion.

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