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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Especially For Black Women, Mastectomies May Not Prevent Breast Cancer

Black woman with breast cancer

Black women are at the highest risk for breast cancer. According to a report released by the American Cancer Society and other cancer groups, black women have nearly twice the rate of the most deadly form of breast cancer, triple negative breast cancer. Early detection and treatment, including mastectomies and lumpectomies, have long been considered important steps for survival. But recent research shows that mastectomies may not, in fact, be that effective in preventing cancer or cancer death.

The purpose of mastectomies

A mastectomy is the surgical removal of one or both breasts. Some women have this surgery performed when abnormal breast cells are found as a preventative measure against cancer. Other women may have mastectomies performed to remove cancerous breasts and is most likely followed up with chemotherapy. But new research shows that women who undergo these surgeries are just as likely to die from cancer as women who did not have the procedure done.

Do mastectomies prevent cancer?

The research was published in the medical journal JAMA Oncology and revealed that mastectomies do not prevent breast cancer; this is particularly true among black women who have a higher mortality rate because they develop a more aggressive type of breast cancer. The research also showed that finding abnormal breast cells does not necessarily mean women will develop breast cancer.

Women who have had mastectomies as a preventative step, like actress Angelina Jolie, will find this concerning. But researchers are continuing to do more studies on the matter. Some researchers believe many years from now, other researchers may find opposite study results. But for right now, black women in particular need to continue to have regular breast exams and perform self exams at home to be safe.

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