Removing both breasts may not boost cancer survival

Women diagnosed with cancer in one breast who choose to have both removed may have no better survival rates than women who opt for breast-conserving surgery and radiation. In a study of nearly 190,000 women, the 10-year mortality rate was 18.8 percent for women who had double mastectomies, 20.1 for those who had single mastectomies and 16.8 percent for women who had lumpectomies plus radiation, researchers report in the Sept. 3 JAMA. The slightly lower survival rate among women who had only one breast removed may be influenced by socioeconomic status and race and ethnicity, the researchers say.

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Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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