Regarding "Caution on double mastectomy" [News, Sept. 3], on occasion medical research can cause more harm than good. The recent discovery that not as many people as previously thought would benefit from a double mastectomy could have a deleterious effect on breast cancer patients. It's true that having cancer in one breast does not necessarily mean that the healthy breast will develop a cancerous tumor; however, a preventive mastectomy will reduce the chance of malignant potential to zero.
The study does not consider the emotional benefits of knowing that that risk has been eliminated. In my years as an anesthesiologist, I've witnessed many patients who had a malignant breast tumor removed and underwent chemotherapy and radiation, only to return several years later for a biopsy of the other breast. Repeating the course of radiation or chemotherapy is deleterious to one's health.
The course of therapy should be the individual's choice.
Another concern is that a study of this nature may cause insurance companies to no longer cover bilateral mastectomies when only one breast is involved, leaving a small but definite risk of future disease.
Dr. Glenn J. Messina, Commack
I was infuriated by this article. I'm a 13-year breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at age 35.
There are reasons besides the purely medical why women have the other breast removed. For many, it's a quality-of-life issue. If you leave a healthy breast, you can spend the rest of your life being poked, prodded and scared at every little thing the doctors believe could be more cancer. This can riddle a person with anxiety.
Every woman is different and should make her own choice.
Amy T. Kielb, Hicksville