Oncology Essentials

Why Women Are Choosing Bilateral Mastectomy

Bonnie Jerome-D’Emilia

Patricia D. Suplee

Ian D’Emilia

breast cancer, ethical issues, sexuality, fertility, surgery
CJON 2015, 19(6), 764-768. DOI: 10.1188/15.CJON.764-768

The rate of women choosing to have a bilateral mastectomy as a treatment for unilateral breast cancer has increased since the 1990s, particularly among younger women. This article describes a qualitative study that was conducted to explore this decision-making process.

At a Glance

  • Many women interviewed about their choice to undergo a bilateral mastectomy for the treatment of unilateral breast cancer expressed their desire to never again experience breast cancer.
  • The science does not support prophylactic removal of the healthy breast in women diagnosed with unilateral breast cancer who do not have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
  • Nurses can be advocates for women with breast cancer by acknowledging their concerns, speaking positively about a woman’s right to choose her treatment, and offering comprehensive education so that women can make informed, evidence-based choices.
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