Breast Reduction: Does It Lower the Risk of Developing Breast Cancer?

Breast reduction surgery is an extremely effective and rewarding procedure that many women undergo for the treatment of large, significantly uncomfortable breasts. It entails the removal of an appropriate amount of breast tissue and skin with recontouring in order to alleviate the symptoms. Research studies have shed light on another benefit: a lowered risk of developing breast cancer for some women. It would seem logical that with less breast tissue available to degenerate into cancer, the risk should be decreased. That is indeed what has been determined. Evidence from several studies performed to examine this possible relationship reveal a risk reduction ranging from 28% to 50%. This effect, however, was only noted to occur in women who were over 40 years old when the surgery was performed. No discernable benefit was seen in those women less than 40 years of age.

This well substantiated finding is just another potential benefit from undergoing a breast reduction. For those women who have an inherently high risk of developing breast cancer, a more appropriate procedure that removes virtually all the breast tissue should be considered such as a subcutaneous or total mastectomy.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

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