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Media Misrepresentation Causes Spike in Double Mastectomies

Milford, CT, May 12, 2016 --( A recent study by Dr. Michael Sabel, chief of surgical oncology at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, reveals that many women are influenced by the skewed media coverage of celebrities battling breast cancer when choosing a treatment option.

The media cite mastectomy or lumpectomy as options but rarely discuss the motivation behind these two choices. Christina Applegate and Angelina Jolie opted for full mastectomies after testing positive for a BRCA gene mutation. In Jolie’s case, she stated that the surgery decreased her chance of getting cancer from 87% to below 5%. Yet fewer than one percent of women has the mutated BRCA gene, which means that they are faced with various treatment options if they develop breast cancer.

“We are seeing a tremendous rise [in double mastectomies] in those who don’t have high risk,” Sabel stated. Noting that many women have already made a decision regardless of their alternatives.

Until recently, options for breast cancer treatment were limited. Twenty-five percent of women who opted for a lumpectomy eventually had to undergo re-excision due to lingering cancer cells. Of these, “a high percentage – 10 to 36 percent – of women requiring re-excision undergo total mastectomy. Thus, the effect of re-excision on altering a patient's initial treatment of choice is significant,” according to a study by Laurence E. McCahill, MD, et al, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

However, new 3D specimen imaging technology is providing women and surgeons with an improved alternative. The Mozart® System with TomoSpec® Technology from Kubtec, the world’s only breast specimen imaging system to use 3D tomosynthesis, gives the surgeon superior clarity of specimen margins. As a result, surgeons obtain a more accurate view of those lingering cancer cells, which can in turn reduce rates of re-excision for patients undergoing breast conserving therapy.

Bilateral mastectomies do not increase a woman’s odds of survival. In fact, studies suggest that women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in one breast who are treated with lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy have the same survival rates as women who are treated with double mastectomy.

The patients’ treatment preference, therefore, comes down to awareness. “Re-excision can produce considerable psychological, physical, and economic stress for patients and delay use of recommended adjuvant therapies,” says McCahill.

3D tomosyntheseis used for specimen imaging, however, is unlocking a new, more exact approach to cancer treatment that enhances breast conservation and allows doctors to alleviate patients’ fears of additional surgery.
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