Mastectomy is more often being opted as a preventive strategy for breast cancer than a treatment among women in the US, leading to a fivefold increase, according to a recent government report.
The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) analyzed data in 13 states and found that the rate of mastectomy had increased by 36% from 2005 to 2013 even though the breast cancer incidence was same during this period.
Also, women opted for bilateral mastectomy than unilateral and the rates of hospital-based bilateral mastectomies tripled, raising from 9.1 to 29.7 whereas the unilateral mastectomy rates remained stable during this period.
It was not necessarily women with cancer who performed the mastectomies because even women without cancer and who were at risk of developing breast cancer also opted for removing their breasts to prevent cancer development.
The report found that between 2005 and 2013, the rate of bilateral mastectomies with cancer tripled and without cancer more than doubled. Also, the rate of unilateral mastectomies without cancer increased to 38% during this period.
Finally, the proportion of hospital-based mastectomies shifted away from unilateral mastectomies with breast cancer and toward bilateral mastectomies, with and without breast cancer.
AHRQ Director Rick Kronick said, "This brief highlights changing patterns of care for breast cancer and the need for further evidence about the effects of choices women are making on their health, well-being and safety. More women are opting for mastectomies, particularly preventive double mastectomies, and more of those surgeries are being done as outpatient procedures."