Study: Women who have double mastectomies do not have improved s - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Study: Women who have double mastectomies do not have improved survival rates

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Wendy Duheme has been a mammography tech for the last 27 years. Everyday Wendy screens women 35 years and older for breast cancer.

"Seeing women come in who were told they had breast cancer and opted to get a unilateral mastectomy of the effected breast only, who have come back year after year and their terrified to have a mammogram again because they are terrified that they are going to hear that news again," said Wendy.

Back in 2007 Wendy was diagnosed with the same thing she has seen so many women battle for years through her job.

"I immediately decided that I wanted to have a bilateral mastectomy," said Wendy.

Like Wendy several women choose to have both breasts removed although cancer may be found in only one of them.

According to a recent study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, double mastectomies have increased in recent years, especially in younger women.

The study shows that women who have the preventative surgery do not have improved survival rates over women who choose to only have the lump removed and radiation.

Almost 200,000 women showed nearly identical 10-year survival rates for women who chose to have a lumpectomy.

Dr. Tim Pearce, oncologist and president of the South Carolina Medical Association, weighed in on the study.

"Women today particularly in their 30s and 40s that find out that they have to go through the rigors of treatment, they don't want to have to do it again," said Pierce. "However, with this study, I think they may want to rethink their options. I think I should say though certainly the study doesn't say that it is with less survival, it just says that it doesn't improve survival."

However, Wendy said her decision to go ahead and have both breasts removed was something she needed to do for herself. 

"To me, medical decisions aren't always scientific," said Wendy. "They're also very personal and it was a personal decision for me to remove both breasts because of my psychological healing I thought I would do better healing through the entire process if I looked at myself and both of my breasts looked the same."

The American Cancer Society estimates that this year there will be more than 200,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women. They recommend women in their 20's and 30's to have a mammogram at least every three years, and women 40 years and older should have one every year.

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