TAMPA, Fla. - Breast cancer survivor Peggy Sherry is busy running errands as she prepares to open a camp this weekend in Tampa for breast cancer survivors. She has constant interaction with other survivors.
“Every cancer is different," she says. "The circumstances are different for every single person.”
So she is cautious when giving an opinion about a new study that says removing both breasts to treat cancer affecting only one side doesn't boost survival chances for most women compared with a lumpectomy and radiation.
The study echoes previous research and adds to the debate about why more women are choosing to have double mastectomies.
Dr. John Cox, a surgical oncologist with Tampa Bay Breast Care Specialists, thinks women blogging and making recommendations to each other is behind much of the increase. “When they come down with breast cancer, there's a psychological phenomenon associated with that. They don't want to have to deal with it again.”
So he says they choose to remove both breasts and it's not necessarily medically driven. Cox says, “The evidence says nothing about the psychological impact of the disease nor the plastic surgical outcome or the cosmetic outcome.”
He says the medical community is trying to find the right balance but ultimately it's the patient’s choice.
So as a breast cancer survivor myself here's my best advice: Patients should take the time to absorb a diagnosis. Get educated by your doctor on the different treatment options available to you for your stage and type of cancer, including the risks and benefits of each treatment before you make a decision on any surgery.