Having both breasts removed improves survival rates for young women with early stage hormone-negative breast cancer, according to a study presented at the 2008 Breast Cancer Symposium in Washington DC. And the reduction was significant—a 31 percent drop in mortality rates. Researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston studied records of more than 80,000 breast cancer patients diagnosed from January 1998 through December 2003.
Women 18-49 with stage I-II breast cancer benefited from contralateral prophylactic mastectomy—or removing both the affected breast and the opposite—or contralateral—one. Older patients, those with stage III disease, or with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer, saw no significant survival benefits from contralateral prophylactic mastectomy.