Although the chances for a man to develop breast cancer are quite slim (about 1 percent of breast cancer cases involve men), the number of male patients requesting a total mastectomy of the unaffected breast has risen dramatically.
Mastectomy is a medical procedure in which a surgeon removes the patient’s entire breast. It is a preventive measure that has gained popularity among female breast cancer survivors although there isn’t compelling evidence that the surgery may boost odds of survival.
Usually, breast cancer is a typically feminine disease. According to recent report, about one woman in eight will be diagnosed with the disease in her lifetime, while men have a one in 1,000 risk.
Researchers found that over the course of seven years, 4,800 men opted for a single breast mastectomy, while nearly 300 men went for contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM). CPM is a procedure designed to remove the healthy breast in an attempt to prevent cancer from spreading.
The research team based their research on data gathered from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). The data was collected between 2004 and 2011, and involved more than 6,300 male breast cancer patients who underwent surgery to a single breast. The team included researchers from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society (ACS).
Surprisingly, the rates of CPM skyrocketed in the period by 86 percent in male breast cancer patients. Study authors also found that CPM is more likely to be requested by white, young males who have a health insurance.
The team said that they weren’t shocked by the results because similar trends were identified in women, as well. One male breast cancer explained that he has a wife and two daughters so he opted for CRM because he was set to do “whatever it takes” to increase his chances of survival.
Study authors, however, acknowledged that they couldn’t learn the reasons behind the surge in double mastectomies in male patients. ACS noted that their risk is considerably lower – a man is 100 times less likely to develop the disease than a woman.
One of the researchers said that he hoped the recent study would help women learn that breast cancer is not a plague that only affects them. Nevertheless, women are often advised by their physicians to undergo CRM, but researchers don’t know whether the same thing goes for men as well. They were however puzzled that the number of CRMs jumped by 80 percent although there isn’t “hard evidence” to back the idea that the procedure may lower the risk of recurrence.
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