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Breast Care (Basel). 2014 Dec;9(6):385-9. doi: 10.1159/000369592.

Impact of Prophylactic Mastectomy in BRCA1/2 Mutation Carriers.

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1
Center for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer, University Hospital Cologne, Germany.

Abstract

Unlike the general decrease in invasive oncologic care, the trend for prophylactic bilateral mastectomy in healthy women and prophylactic contralateral mastectomy in women with unilateral breast cancer is steadily rising. This is even more surprising when considering that for e.g. prophylactic contralateral mastectomy no clear survival benefit has been demonstrated so far. The decision-making process around risk-reducing surgery may be influenced by several conflicting parameters such as the patient's fears and desire to achieve a survival advantage, the surgeon's financial motivations, or the oncologist's paternalistic approach to the above trend. Physicians should support their patients throughout the decision-making process, guide them through the dense fog of information, and encourage them to reconsider all options and alternatives before embarking on an irreversible surgical intervention. Healthy and diseased women should be comprehensively informed about their absolute individual risks for cancer, the benefits and harms of the surgery, alternative preventive strategies, and last but not least the competing risks of preceding carcinomas and cancer in general. Within the framework of non-directive counseling in the specialized centers of the German Consortium for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (GC-HBOC), decision-making aids are being developed with grants from the Federal Ministry of Health and the German Cancer Aid to support women in making conclusive and satisfactory decisions.

KEYWORDS:

BRCA1; BRCA2; High-risk genes; Prophylactic mastectomy

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