Women choose needless ‘Angelina op’ for cancer
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.