Cancer fight

Women in 5 states opt for unnecessary mastectomies more than anywhere else in the U.S., study finds

Rina Castelnuovo/The New York Times

Women in who live in five U.S. states are more likely to undergo unnecessary mastectomies than women in the rest of the country, a new study has found. Medical officials have already suggested too many women are undergoing the surgery unnecessarily, and now they know where a large portion of those women tend to live. Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado, Iowa, and South Dakota are the states researchers identified as having the most such cases. Overall, mastectomies are up nationwide over the eight years in which researchers studied the numbers.

“We found that the proportion of contralateral prophylactic mastectomies among patients 20 years or older with early-stage unilateral breast cancer treated with surgery significantly increased from 2004 to 2012 in almost all states,” team at the American Cancer Society, Emory University and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute wrote in its report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Surgery. But in those five Midwest states, they are dramatically higher than elsewhere. Some 42 percent of patients living in those states opted for the preventative surgery — even when it wasn’t necessary.

Researchers don’t know what’s driving this phenomenon, but they agree that women, by and large, need more information when deciding to undergo serious operations. And one expert,  Dr. Lisa Newman of the Breast Oncology Program at Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System, thinks the data about those Midwest states could function as a bellwether for where the country at large is headed — similar to how pollsters use bellwether states to predict election outcomes.

Read the full story at NBC News.


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