6 For Your Health

Breast Cancer

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Updated: 11/27/2012 9:42 pm

In today's 6 For Your Health headlines... the number of women undergoing a double mastectomy has nearly tripled since the mid-90's -- despite the fact cases of cancer in both breasts having gone down thanks to new drugs.

Experts say peace of mind is often playing a stronger role in a woman's surgical decisions than her diagnosis. Erika Edwards reports.

E! News host Giuliana Rancic publicly battled early stage breast cancer late last year -- announcing her treatment decision on the today show.

Giuliana Rancic, E! News host: "I'm going to go ahead and move forward with a double mastectomy."

Doctors say her type of breast cancer is often treated successfully with breast-conserving surgery, radiation and hormone therapy.

But like a growing number of women -- Rancic chose to have both breasts removed.

Giuliana Rancic: "At the end all it came down to was choosing to live, and not looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life."

A new study out of the university of michigan suggests seventy percent of double mastectomy patients elect to have both breasts removed despite facing a low risk for developing cancer in the healthy breast.

Dr. Halle Moore, Cleveland Clinic: "We generally estimate the risk for a new cancer in the other side to be about 1% per year."

Women who are candidates for double mastectomy include those with two or more immediate family members with the disease, or those who test positive for the breast cancer genes.

Everyone else may be facing risks from a surgery that may not be necessary.

Dr. Halle Moore: "The best that we can do is try to inform the patient and try to put their risk into numbers the best that we can and try to give them some perspective."

And perhaps achieve a balance between physical health and peace of mind.

Doctors say improvements to reconstructive surgery have made double mastectomies more appealing to patients. Also, scanning machines like M.R.I. are revealing spots in the healthy breast, that although benign, may cause enough anxiety in patients that they choose to have both breasts removed.

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