Over the years I have talked with more than one woman who, when face with a breast cancer treatment decision, chose to have a double mastectomy. Their reasoning always revolved around completing removing the chance for a recurrence.

In an article I read today, the trend toward removing the second, unaffected breast, has increased dramatically, almost threefold, since 1998. While there has been a study done that indicates this trend, a follow up study is planned to try to determine the reason for the trend.

Lead author for the study report in the Journal of Medical Oncology, Dr Todd M. Tuttle, noted that “although there may be sound reasons for undergoing double mastectomy (avoidance of future mammograms and preventing a new cancer), the procedure does not improve breast cancer survival.”

It’s important to note that breast cancer can recur after a mastectomy and that it doesn’t necessarily recur in the other breast. Recurrence is actually more likely in the originally affected site, “(in the treated breast or near the mastectomy scar) or as a distant recurrence somewhere else in the body. The most common sites of recurrence include the lymph nodes, the bones, liver, or lungs.”

Bottom line. From a life insurance standpoint, the very personal decision about whether or not to have a single or double mastectomy doesn’t come into play. The deciding factors remain the same. The stage and grade of the cancer and the time lapsed from the completion of treatment.

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