Breast-Cancer Risk Drops with Double Mastectomies

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Preventive double mastectomies can lower the risk of developing breast cancer by 90 percent in women who are genetically predisposed to the disease, according to a study led by researchers from Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center. This international study was the first to quantify the risk reduction for removing both breasts in women who carry mutations in at least one of the genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2. 

“Women are still at risk for breast cancer after any kind of mastectomy, as some breast tissue remains in the body after surgery,” said Dr. Timothy Rebbeck, co-program leader of the center’s cancer epidemiology and risk reduction program and an associate professor of epidemiology in the School of Medicine. But armed with these research results, women in this high-risk group “can make a better-informed decision about having breast surgery in addition to other forms of prevention, such as regular screening and/or other preventive surgeries, including ovary removal.”

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