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Breast Cancer Study: Double Mastectomy Does Not Offer Increased Survival Chance

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A major study on breast cancer shows women who opt to have a double mastectomy do not have an increased chance of survival, raising concerns the women are undergoing potentially unnecessary operations.

The study, involving 200,000 California women treated for cancer in one breast, confirmed what doctors and scientists suspected: removing both breasts does not always mean a better end result.

When Sonia Susac was diagnosed with cancer in one breast, she chose to have both breasts removed. She's one of an increasing number of women choosing double mastectomies.

The study did not find a difference in the survival rate for women with a double mastectomy or women who had breast conserving surgery where the tumor is removed, followed by radiation.

The study also found women who chose to have one breast removed faired worse than either of the above solutions.

It also revealed caucasian women were much more likely than minorities to have a double mastectomy.

Sacramento medical oncologist Dr. Nitin Rohatgi says the study will help patients and doctors look at the real science behind the choices.

"I think we have been doing the wrong thing," Rohatgi said. "I think a lot of women do it because of emotional reasons and not for scientific reasons they don't do it because it will make them live any longer."

Susac says it was emotional for her. She says the made the right decision for her, and she's glad the study was done.

"I think it will help other women to make that choice but I think deep down inside most women, their intuition tells them what their choice needs to be," she said.

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