Study shows benefit of double mastectomy in women with BRCA-related breast cancer

Published on February 12, 2014 at 2:06 PM · No Comments
  • Women who had a double mastectomy had a 48% greater likelihood of surviving compared to women with a single mastectomy
  • For women who developed a new breast cancer in the opposite breast, the risk of dying of breast cancer was doubled
  • At twenty years, the survival rate was 88% for women with a double mastectomy and 66% for women with a single mastectomy

"Our study's results provide evidence that in order to improve survival in women with BRCA-associated breast cancer, we need to prevent new breast cancers from developing after an initial diagnosis," said Dr. Steven Narod, a co-author of the study and a senior scientist at Women's College Research Institute. "This study highlights the importance of providing genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 at the time of breast cancer diagnosis if appropriate. This genetic information could help women make decisions that ultimately may increase their chance of surviving breast cancer."

Last year, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, publicly announced her decision to opt for a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery after discovering she had the BRCA1 gene. The then 37 year-old actress said doctors estimated she had a 50 per cent risk of developing ovarian cancer and an 87 per cent risk of breast cancer.

While existing research widely supports the benefit of a double mastectomy in preventing breast cancer in women with the gene mutation, the study's researchers caution more research is necessary to confirm the benefit of a double mastectomy in reducing the risk of death in women diagnosed with BRCA-related breast cancer.

Source: Women's College Hospital

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