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Mastectomy May Reduce Breast Cancer Mortality: Study


Breast cancer is prevalent across the world but fortunately it is preventable. In early age, women with family history can get their BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation tests. According to a study, women who underwent risk-reducing mastectomy after being postive for either of the two BRCA mutations, have lesser chances of getting breast cancer in future. 

According to World Health Organisation, As of the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 5 years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer. Breast cancer occurs in every country of the world in women at any age after puberty but with increasing rates in later life.  

Researchers have found that the risk-reducing mastectomy reduces the risk of breast cancer and mortality in the female patients positive of BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic variants, a recent study published in the British Journal of Cancer stated. 

The Study

Female patients who have an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation bear an 80% risk of developing breast cancer over the course of their lifetimes. Research has shown that a risk-reducing mastectomy can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 90%. The study says that 30% of women in Canada with either of the two mutations tend to opt for this surgery.

“The decision to have a risk-reducing mastectomy is often difficult for a [patient] to make, and the more evidence we are able to provide them with when they are making that decision, the more informed their care plan will be,” explained lead study author Kelly Metcalfe, RN, PhD, FCAHS, FAAN, of the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and a senior scientist at the Women’s College Research Institute.

Study Methods and Results

breast cancer

In the study, the researchers examined how the risk-reducing mastectomy may affect the rate of mortality in 1,600 female patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations but no diagnosis of breast cancer. Of all, 50% of the women underwent risk-reducing mastectomy. 

The researchers discovered 20 cases of breast cancer and two deaths in the women who had gone through the risk-reducing mastectomy. 100 cases of breast cancer and seven deaths in the control group were recorded. Notably, the risk of breast cancer incidence in the women who underwent the risk-reducing mastectomy reduced by 80% and the risk of dying from breast cancer within 15 years of the procedure was less than 1%. 

breast cancer

Conclusion

“Although there wasn’t a significant difference in deaths between the two groups in this study, we know that a risk-reducing mastectomy significantly reduces the risk of ever developing breast cancer,” said Dr. Metcalfe. 

According to the researchers, following-up with the patients involved in the study for a longer period of time can benefit and could generate more evidence to assess the true post–risk-reducing mastectomy mortality rate and highlight the benefits associated with this type of procedure.

“Right now, we have good screening in place for breast cancer, including breast [magnetic resonance imaging], so surgery is only offered as an option, not a recommendation. [Nonetheless], with more studies being conducted to assess [patients’] trajectory and risk factors following [risk-reducing mastectomy], we will know whether these guidelines need to be changed in the future,” concluded Dr. Metcalfe.

 

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