Radical Surgery

A study shows that cutting off your breasts will reduce your cancer risk. But few should do it

For nearly four decades, some women with a family history of breast cancer have been so fearful of possibly having inherited a strong predisposition to the disease that they opted--even though they showed no signs of cancer--to have their breasts surgically removed. But it's impossible to extract every last piece of breast tissue from the upper body; so they were never sure that the procedure, called a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, would truly help protect them.

Until now. Last week physicians from the Mayo Clinic reported that 639 women, all facing a moderate to high risk of developing breast cancer, underwent prophylactic...

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