Is a Preventive Mastectomy the Right Choice For You?

Does having cancer in one breast increase the risk of cancer occurring in the other, healthy breast?

Young women with breast cancer often respond with a “yes” and overestimate the need to have the healthy breast surgically removed, according to a recent study by Dana-Farber investigators. However, the actual risk of cancer occurring in the healthy breast of those women without a genetic predisposition to breast cancer is only two to four percent.

Dr. Ann Partridge
Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber

Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, the study’s senior author and director of the Institute’s Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer, and Shoshana Rosenberg, ScD, MPH, lead author, both of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, found a disconnect between what many patients know – that undergoing a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, or CPM, to remove a healthy breast has little impact on survival rates for most women – and the choices they make after receiving the anxiety-inducing diagnosis of breast cancer.

Watch as Partridge explains the study’s results, and the pros and cons of CPM: