Men who have breast cancer are increasingly choosing to have a double mastectomy rather than just remove the affected breast, according to a study.
About 1% of all cases of breast cancer in the United States occur in men, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer is a more severe disease in men than in women; men are more likely to die of breast cancer than are women. Even so, the rate of double mastectomy in men is still low, at fewer than 6%.
In this study, Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, vice president of surveillance and health services research at the American Cancer Society, and his colleagues, looked at whether there has been a rise in double mastectomy among men with invasive breast cancer.
The team examined data from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) and identified 6,332 men who were treated for invasive breast cancer in one breast between 2004 and 2011. During this period, the rate of double mastectomy among the men almost doubled, from 3% in 2004 to 5.6% in 2011. Men who were younger, white, or who had private medical insurance were most likely to undergo the procedure. These are the same factors that have been linked to an increased rise in double mastectomies in women with breast cancer.
Among women with invasive breast cancer in one breast, there has been a significant increase in the rate of double mastectomies, rising from 2.2% in 1998 to 11% in 2011. This increase in the removal of the healthy breast along with the cancerous one has many health care professionals concerned. Previous studies have found that the procedure is unnecessary for most women with breast cancer, since there is not enough evidence to suggest it is beneficial. A recent study found that double mastectomy apparently does not reduce mortality for women with breast cancer.
Genetic testing, a family history of breast cancer, and fear of second primary breast cancer are factors for women in the choice of a double mastectomy. There is no data as yet to determine whether these factors influenced rate for men.
The study appeared in JAMA Surgery.