A government study released on Monday found that between 2005 and 2013, mastectomies increased by 36% and double mastectomies tripled. Some of the women having the surgery do not have breast cancer. Many who have tested positive for the BRCA1 mutation are opting for surgery before any signs of potential cancer are detected. Actress Angelina Jolie brought genetic testing to light when she opted for the surgery back in 2013.
Women are choosing mastectomies because reconstructive surgery has improved and genetic testing is more popular. The average age for a woman having a double mastectomy is 51, a decade younger than those having a unilateral mastectomy.
Despite the increase in surgeries, rates of breast cancer have remained steady. Surgeons are doing less breast conservation surgeries and more radical mastectomies. Between 2005 and 2013, the rate of bilateral outpatient mastectomies increased more than fivefold. By 2013, almost half of all mastectomies were outpatient procedures. The CMO of the American Cancer Society recommends that hospitals not perform bilateral mastectomies until the woman has gone through counseling to discuss the pros and cons of genetic testing.
Cutler, Jaqueline. “Number of mastectomies skyrockets though cancer rate stays same.” Health. New York Daily News, 23 Feb 2016. Web. 23 Feb 2016.