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.