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Patient frequency of unnecessary double mastectomy is worrisome

When a patient in Illinois or anywhere else throughout the U.S. receives a cancer diagnosis, the priority is to seek the proper and most effective treatment. But what happens if the treatment is unclear or the patient is not capable of understanding how best to proceed? Those who are negatively affected by a doctor's failure to provide adequate advice could end up as a victim of medical negligence. If this causes damage, that could be the foundation for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Researchers are examining how doctors allowing patients to take a decisive role in their treatment when they are diagnosed with breast cancer has led to a troublesome number of unnecessary mastectomies. In a survey of more than 2,400 women who had the disease, it was found that they overestimated the value of surgery and removed healthy breasts when they did not have to do so. This occurred more frequently when doctors did not clarify the absence of significant benefit in preventing the cancer from returning or extending their lives.

The study, from the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that patients' participation in their treatment led to the aggressive surgeries. With these surgeries, the doctors remove both breasts, even when only one is affected. In many instances, this is not a statistically sound decision. There is little evidence that the removal of both breasts increases the chance at survival. A vast proportion of women who took part in a survey regarding whether to remove both breasts or not considered such drastic steps. Nearly 4,000 women were asked, with 71 percent responding. In total, 44 percent thought about removing the healthy breast, with nearly 25 percent strongly considering it. Thirty-seven percent stated that their surgeons advised they not have both breasts removed. Eleven percent recommended it, and 59 percent agreed to it.

While this decision might only seem to be a cosmetic issue as women have both breasts removed when it was not necessary to do so, any surgical procedure has dangers attached to it. There is the possibility that unnecessary surgery could harm a patient or even result in death. For those who believe they were misled, or not given the proper information from their doctor, it is important to discuss the matter with an attorney who is experienced in helping those who have been victims of a mistake or a missed diagnosis to consider a legal filing for compensation.

Source: latimes.com, "17% of women with early-stage breast cancer have unnecessary mastectomies, and doctors want to know why," Karen Kaplan, Dec. 21, 2016

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