The findings of a recent study suggest that women diagnosed with breast cancer would rather have a mastectomy over a lumpectomy when they have control over the treatment options. The results of the study, which surveyed 1844 women in the Los Angeles and Detroit areas with breast cancer, showed that it is often patients, and not their surgeons, who opt for mastectomies.
As part of the study, the women were asked whether they made the choice to have surgery, whether their physician did, or whether both did, and what options were discussed. The researchers found that, among Caucasian women, who made up 70% of the sample, 27% said that they chose a mastectomy, compared with 5.3% who reported that their surgeon made the surgical decision and 16.8% who said that the decision was mutual.
African American women had different results, and they tended to seek more surgeons' opinions and to make their decisions later. In this group, 30.2% had a mastectomy as their initial treatment. Of those women, 41% said that they made the surgical decision, compared with 37.1% who said that the decision was shared and 21.9% who reported that the surgeon made the decision with or without their input. Reporting in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (August 2005), the researchers said that the women who chose a mastectomy may have done so because it is a more complete treatment and they fear cancer recurrence.