Predictors of and satisfaction with bilateral prophylactic mastectomy

Michael E. Stefanek, Kathy J. Helzlsouer, Patti M. Wilcox, Florence Houn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Background. Women with a first-degree relative with breast cancer are at increased risk of developing this disease. The optimal medical management of these women is unclear, with options including close breast cancer screening, bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, or participation in chemoprevention trials. Among women who undergo prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, very little is known about satisfaction with this surgery. Also, we know very little about variables related to prophylactic mastectomy decision making. Methods. Participants were women at increased risk of breast cancer due to family history. These women were categorized by self-report as not interested in prophylactic mastectomy (n = 58), interested but deciding against surgery (n = 92), or subsequently having a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy (n = 14). Information on screening practices, risk. perception, level of depression, and cancer-related worry was collected. Women completing prophylactic mastectomy reported on their satisfaction with the surgery and breast reconstruction. Results. Women selecting surgery reported more breast cancer worry. The group expressing no interest in surgery reported fewer biopsies and lower risk estimates. Women completing surgery were satisfied with their decision, although satisfaction with reconstruction was mixed. Conclusion. Factors influencing surgical decision making may include breast-cancer-related worry, biopsy history, and subjective breast cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-419
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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