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The study authors said this is the first research to identify this trend in men, which has been occurring in American women for the past two decades.
"The increase in the rate of this costly, serious procedure with no evidence of survival benefit comes, paradoxically, at a time of greater emphasis on quality and value in cancer care," said study leader Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, vice president of surveillance and health services research at the American Cancer Society.
The study included more than 6,300 men who had surgery for cancer in one breast. Their surgeries occurred between 2004 and 2011. The percentage of men who also had their cancer-free breast removed rose from 3 percent in 2004 to 5.6 percent in 2011, the study found.
Those mostly likely to have their cancer-free breast removed were younger, white and privately insured, the study said.
Findings were published online Sept. 2 in the journal JAMA Surgery.
"Health care providers should be aware that the increase we've seen in removal of the unaffected breast is not limited to women, and doctors should carefully discuss with their male patients the benefits, harms and costs of this surgery to help patients make informed decisions about their treatments," Jemal said in a journal news release.
Men account for only about 1 percent of breast cancer patients in the United States.
The percentage of women with invasive breast cancer in one breast who have their cancer-free breast removed rose from 2 percent in 1998 to 11 percent in 2011. This, despite the risk of complications and a lack of evidence that it improves the chances of survival, according to background information from the study.
-- Robert Preidt
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