Fear Behind Some Breast Cancer Surgeries

By Kelly McCarthy

November 30, 2012 Updated Nov 30, 2012 at 6:05 PM EST

Sayre, PA (WBNG Binghamton) Women diagnosed with breast cancer could be opting for additional surgeries out of fear.

A recent study suggests most women who have a double mastectomy don't actually need it.

Action News finds out what breast surgeons can do to change patient perceptions.

Of the women participating in the study, 90% of them that choose to have both breasts said they did so out of worry and fear.

"I do have these conversations with my patients, and I try to give them some time to think it over, but I understand as well because it is a very emotional process, and very psychological," said Dr. Hang Dang, a breast surgeon at Guthrie Medical.

It's a surgery that's being done more often, but Dr. Dang said the surgery does not prevent the patient from getting a reoccurring diagnosis.

Dr. Dang said the most effective way for patients to understand the risks of having a more aggressive surgery for no medical need is for surgeons to know how to talk to them about it.

"But we have to be able to say, "I educated the patient and I told her the risk and she understands, but now her final decision is still the same, and that's where I think is also important, we have to educate the physician to also educate the patient," said Dr. Dang.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer do have a higher risk of getting a second primary diagnosis, but removing both breasts is usually only recommended for patients that have a confirmed diagnosis.

The study was released by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Care Center.

The authors are presenting the findings to the American Society of Clinical Oncology's Quality Care Symposium on Friday, November 30th.

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