New research suggests a dramatic increase in the number of women diagnosed with early breast cancer in one breast who choose to have both breasts surgically removed.

The share of so-called contra-lateral prophylactic mastectomy 'surgery among American women with early breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) increased by 188 percent between 1998 and 2005, Dr. Todd Tuttle, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and colleagues found.

Exactly the reason why more and more women choose this treatment is unclear.

"The 10-year survival of women with DCIS is 98 percent to 99 percent," Tuttle notes in a university statement. "It is the abolition of the normal contra-lateral breast cancer will not improve the excellent survival for this group of women. But many women, particularly young women, chose to have both breasts removed."

The results reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, derived from a study of 51,030 women with unilateral DCIS. A total of 2072 women chose breast removal surgery for cancer, the report shows.

Of all surgical patients, the contra-lateral mastectomy increased from 2.1 percent to 5.2 percent (148 percent) between 1998 and 2005.

For those treated with mastectomy, the proportion of double mastectomy increased from 6.4 percent to 18.4 percent (188 percent).

More studies are urgently required "to the complex decision-making leads to contra-lateral prophylactic mastectomy," researchers conclude.



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