Fear of cancer reoccurrence spurs double mastectomies - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Fear of cancer reoccurrence spurs double mastectomies

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When Paloma Garcia was diagnosed with breast cancer at 25, she made the tough decision to have surgery to remove both breasts, even though the cancer was only in one.

"When I decided to do the double mastectomy, I just pretty much thought what would keep me here longer for my daughter," Garcia said.

A new study finds fear of recurrence is driving more young women to have a double mastectomy even though most are aware the surgery will not improve survival rates.  The study looked at 123 women age 40 and younger.

"One of the most striking findings is that most women say they do it for peace of mind," said Shoshana Rosenberg with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the study's author.

But research shows the risk of getting breast cancer in the opposite breast is about 10 percent in 10 years. "If a woman develops the second breast cancer in the opposite breast, maybe that is going to be 10, 20, 30 years later," said Dr. Stephanie Bernik with Lenox Hill Hospital. "So 10 year follow up isn't quite long enough."

Dr. Bernik counsels her patients about the science, as well as the risks and benefits, but says every woman needs to make an informed decision for herself.

"Dr. Bernik laid out all the options and the only word I heard was double mastectomy and deep down in my heart I just knew that was it," Garcia said.

Paloma had breast reconstruction recently and is getting ready to start the next phase of her treatment -- chemotherapy.

Susan McGinnis - CBS News

For more on preventative mastectomies -- www.mayoclinic.com/health/prophylactic-mastectomy/WO00060


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