CPM is the removal of the unaffected breast in addition to the cancerous breast -- to reduce risk of future breast cancer. "Contralateral prophylactic mastectomy is one option to reduce contralateral risk in women diagnosed with a first breast cancer who also have a strong family history of breast cancer," says Marlene Frost, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic oncology researcher and lead investigator of the study. "Women need to carefully weigh the benefits of this procedure with the potential adverse effects."
Over 211,000 women are diagnosed each year with breast cancer in the United States. The risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast after an initial diagnosis is about 15 percent over a woman's lifetime. However, this risk increases dramatically in women with an inherited mutation of the BRCA1/2 genes, to 52 percent over a lifetime, and for women under 40 at initial diagnosis, the risk is 40 percent within the first 10 years. To manage these risks, women may have more frequent screenings for breast cancer, take preventive chemotherapy, or have a prophylactic oophorectomy (preventive removal of ovaries) or mastectomy.
Over 80 percent of the 583 women in the study reported satisfaction with having a CPM, although Dr. Frost and her team found that satisfaction depended on the type of surgical procedure -- women who had a subcutaneous mastectomy (about 95 percent of breast tissue removed with a small amount left behind the nipple while the skin, nipple and areola are preserved) reported more problems with reconstruction and fewer were satisfied with the procedure than those women