Women choose need­less ‘An­gelina op’ for cancer

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS -

SUR­GEONS are en­cour­ag­ing women with breast cancer to have dou­ble mas­tec­tomies that do lit­tle or noth­ing to im­prove their sur­vival chances, a lead­ing doc­tor has warned.

Dr Fiona MacNeill, a sur­geon at Lon­don’s Royal Mars­den Hos­pi­tal, said doc­tors were push­ing for the re­moval of the sec­ond – healthy – breast, some­times just to give pa­tients peace of mind.

A US study shows the opinion of a pa­tient’s sur­geon has a strong ef­fect on whether a woman has a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with cancer in a sin­gle breast.

Among the pa­tients of sur­geons who most favoured the op­er­a­tion, 34 per cent went ahead with it, com­pared with 4 per cent of pa­tients with sur­geons most strongly against it, ac­cord­ing to the re­search, pub­lished in JAMA Surgery.

Dr MacNeill said pre­vi­ous re­search showed that for these women, a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy “does not sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce risk or im­prove sur­vival” be­cause the risk of cancer oc­cur­ring in the other breast is low. By con­trast, the “big­ger risk is their orig­i­nal cancer re­turn­ing else­where in their body”.

The num­ber of dou­ble mas­tec­tomies in Bri­tain surged from 234 in 2010 to 484 in 2016 since ac­tor An­gelina Jolie had the pro­ce­dure in 2013.

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