Bilateral mastectomy does not improve mortality in unilateral cancer

The observational study of nearly 190,000 Californian patients showed treatment of early stage breast cancer using bilateral mastectomy increased from 2% of patients in 1998 to 12.3% by 2011. 

Among younger women (aged <40), the rate went up from 3.6% to 33% in the same time period.

The study is the first to compare mortality rates of women receiving one of three treatments: bilateral mastectomy, unilateral mastectomy and breast-conserving surgery with radiation. 

The breast cancer mortality rate in those receiving bilateral mastectomy was statistically no different from women treated with breast-conserving surgery and radiation, the analysis showed.

The rising trend for the procedure was puzzling, the authors said, although they cited increasing use of breast MRIs and of genetic testing as possible reasons. 

“Although fear of cancer recurrence may prompt the decision for bilateral mastectomy, such fear