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A Look at Women's Breast Cancer Treatment Decisions

Aug 25, 2017

Many women with early-stage breast cancer may consider aggressive treatment choices, a new study found.

More than half of the 2,362 women in this study said they at least considered having both breasts removed (double mastectomy) even though they only had early-stage cancer in one breast. While the study authors noted that having both breasts removed doesn't usually affect survival rates, they also found that women who considered the procedure shared some traits.

In particular, women who said they often worried about making the wrong decision were more likely to say they considered having a double mastectomy. Many of these women said they were worried about the effects of radiation exposure and the cancer coming back. Also, women who wanted to make their own treatment decisions instead of relying on their doctors were more likely to strongly consider a double mastectomy.

Conversely, women who thought of themselves as logical thinkers were less likely to say they had considered having a double mastectomy.

The authors of this study noted that many patients overestimate the risk of their cancer returning. Many patients are also unaware of advances in the safety of radiation therapy, they noted.

Breast cancer treatment is a personal decision you should make after speaking with your doctor. Every case is different and may require different types of treatment.

This study was published in the journal Cancer.

The National Cancer Institute funded this research. The study authors disclosed no potential conflicts of interest.

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