Penn Researchers Find Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy (CPM) Offers Limited Gains to Life Expectancy for Breast Cancer Patients

December 8, 2011

Penn Medicine News Release

Contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM), a procedure that removes the unaffected breast in patients with cancer in one breast, provides only a modest increase in life expectancy, according to a new study by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In fact, the study shows that the surgery may actually reduce the quality-adjusted life expectancy – a measure of life expectancy that takes into account quality of life – among women whose breast cancer is not hereditary. Since only around 10 percent of breast cancers are known to be caused by genetic factors, the findings of the study apply to the vast majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer who are treated with mastectomy. The findings of the study were reported today at the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. “We suspect that many of the women who elect to undergo CPM are acting on the belief the surgery will substantially reduce their overall risk of dying of breast cancer,” said senior author Robert G. Prosnitz, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology. “However, our study shows that a woman’s risk of death from her primary breast cancer far outweighs her risk of death from a potential breast cancer developing in the unaffected breast.” Read More

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