Over the past two decades, an increasing number of women with early stage cancer in one breast have chosen to surgically remove the other healthy breast, hoping that would reduce their risk of cancer ever returning.
But if there is no genetic factor, such as the bracca gene that would indicate a family history of breast cancer, more and more experts are deciding there is no strong evidence to warrant removing a healthy breast.
"The most likely outcome for a woman who's got early stage breast cancer is that she will never have breast cancer again, period," said Dr. Isabelle Bedrosian with the MD Anderson Cancer Center.
"Women want to do everything they can but taking off the other breast probably is not going to make a difference, and it's a pretty drastic procedure for a person who is young, healthy and has a long time to live," said Dr. Ann Patridge with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Dr. Partridge and her colleagues at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston studied the reasons women choose to have this preventive surgery in the other breast, and found the risk for developing a new cancer in the healthy breast is a half to one percent.
One-third of the women studied said the surgical side effects of removing the healthy breast were worse than they thought.
It's something to discuss with your doctor, even though for most, removing the second breast simply brings peace of mind.
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