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Keywords:

  • attitudes;
  • breast cancer;
  • breast surgery;
  • contralateral prophylactic mastectomy;
  • surgeons

Abstract

Background

The rates of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) are increasing worldwide. This study investigated Australian and New Zealand's breast surgeons' perceptions, knowledge and attitudes towards CPM, and explored if demographic characteristics of surgeons were associated with an increased tendency to recommend or perform CPM.

Methods

A cross sectional research design was employed, with breast surgeons completing a self-report questionnaire. The questionnaire collected information including surgeons' perceptions on CPM in their clinical practice, their attitudes and knowledge of CPM and surgeons' demographic information.

Results

 Eighty-one of 220 (37%) breast surgeons contacted via BreastSurgANZ participated in this study. Forty-four per cent of surgeons perceived that the rates of CPMs they performed had increased over the last year. CPM rates were found to be unrelated to surgeons' age (P = 0.773) or gender (P = 0.941). The main reasons a surgeon recommended a CPM to patients included known BRCA+ mutation, family history of breast cancer and patient factors including fear and anxiety and a desire to avoid further breast cancer treatment.

Conclusions

Breast surgeons perceived that rates of CPM were increasing in their own clinical practice. CPM rates were unrelated to surgeon demographics including age and gender. While surgeons are aware of the objective risk factors that make performing a CPM advisable, they also report taking into account subjective factors, including patient fear and anxiety and a desire for breast symmetry when recommending a CPM.