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Annu Rev Med. 2017 Jan 14;68:229-241. doi: 10.1146/annurev-med-043015-075227. Epub 2016 Aug 26.

Why Are There So Many Mastectomies in the United States?

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Breast Service, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10065; email:


Breast-conserving therapy (BCT) and mastectomy result in equivalent long-term survival. Locoregional recurrence rates after BCT have decreased over time and are now similar to those after mastectomy. Contralateral breast cancer rates are declining as well owing to the widespread use of adjuvant systemic therapy. Despite these improved outcomes, increasing rates of bilateral mastectomy for unilateral cancer have been observed in the United States. Medical indications for mastectomy are well defined and present in a minority of patients, and women at increased risk for contralateral cancer are a small proportion of the breast cancer population. Evidence indicates that increasing use of mastectomy is a patient-driven trend that is most pronounced among younger, educated, and well-insured women, and reflects fear of recurrence and in some cases misunderstanding of future cancer risks. Although satisfaction levels are generally high among patients choosing contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, complications and procedure extent may be underestimated. Improved communication strategies are essential to facilitate this complex decision-making process.


breast-conserving therapy; contralateral prophylactic mastectomy; locoregional recurrence; mastectomy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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