The rate of male mastectomies has increased by 86.7 percent
Although breast cancer is widely seen as a woman’s disease, several thousand men are at diagnosed every year. Like female patients, about one percent of the male population in America is confronted with the same difficult treatment decisions and the same fear that the cancer will return.
For this reason, many breast cancer patients, both male and female, choose to remove the healthy breast as well as the afflicted breast in order to reduce the possibility of a future diagnosis. This procedure is called a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM).
The American Cancer Society in collaboration with the Dana Farber Cancer institute released a report that clearly shows that prophylactic mastectomies are on the rise among male breast cancer patients.
The study, which was published yesterday in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), shows that the rate of male mastectomies has increased by 86.7 percent. In 2004, three percent of male breast cancer patients opted for the surgery; in 2011 5.6 percent did. For females, the rate has increased from 4.5 percent to 11 percent.
“We don’t know why it’s happening in men, but we do know the sociodemographic factors that have been associated with contralateral prophylactic mastectomy in women are also associated with men,” said study author Ahmedin Jemal, vice president of surveillance and health services research at the American Cancer Society.
For both men and women, the patients that decide to undergo CPM surgery are typically young, white and well-insured. It is widely believed that the trend of insurance companies to now cover breast reconstructive surgery has made the decision easier to make.
Breast cancer in men is rare. However, those struck are more likely than women to later develop breast cancer in the healthy breast. Male survivors have a 20 percent increased risk of rediagnois. Women have a five percent risk.
“Men can benefit from this procedure,” said Jemal. “What they need to do is talk to their doctors about the benefits, risks and costs. It’s only the patients at high risk who are likely to benefit from the procedure. They need to discuss with the doctor if they’re a candidate. They have to have the information so they can make an informed decision, but it has to be based on scientific evidence.”