An Evaluation of the Choice for Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy and Patient Concerns About Recurrence in a Reconstructed Cohort

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Rising contralateral prophylactic mastectomy rates are a subject of national concern. This study assessed (1) factors critical to patients when deciding on contralateral prophylactic mastectomy and (2) patients' quality of life related to concerns about recurrence after unilateral or bilateral breast reconstruction.


Patients with stage 0 to III breast cancer who underwent unilateral mastectomy or contralateral prophylactic mastectomy and breast reconstruction at a single institution between 2000 and 2012 were identified. Demographic and clinical data were extracted by chart review. Women's fears about breast cancer recurrence were assessed using the Concerns About Recurrence Scale, and motivational factors for contralateral prophylactic mastectomy were identified using the Decisions for Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy Survey.


Survey responses were received from 157 patients (59%) who underwent unilateral reconstruction and 109 (41%) who underwent bilateral reconstruction. The top 3 reasons for choosing contralateral prophylactic mastectomy were (1) decreasing the risk of contralateral breast disease (97%), (2) peace of mind (96%), and (3) improved survival (93%). Women who chose contralateral prophylactic mastectomy reported significantly greater overall fear and worry compared with the unilateral group, specifically, greater fears of dying and worries about adequately fulfilling roles of daily life (P < 0.05).


Despite no proven survival benefit, women chose contralateral prophylactic mastectomy primarily to optimize oncologic outcomes. Among breast reconstruction patients, women who underwent contralateral prophylactic mastectomy had greater anxiety and overall fear of breast cancer recurrence compared with those who chose unilateral mastectomy. These findings are important to consider when counseling women contemplating contralateral prophylactic mastectomy.

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