Mercy Breast Cancer Surgeon Dr. Neil B. Friedman Explores Trend Among Women to Undergo Mastectomy to Prevent Breast Cancer

June 13, 2016
Dr. Neil Friedman - Breast Center at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

More women with breast cancer who undergo mastectomies are choosing to have both breasts removed, even if they don't have to.

Actress Angelina Jolie had what is called a preventative double mastectomy after finding out she carried the BRCA gene mutation. But breast cancer patients who don't have the gene mutation are also opting to have both breasts removed, and those numbers are increasing.

Terri Lyon, 52, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, and what she did next was a decision she and her family made together.

"It's an emotional roller coaster," Lyon said. "My sister had breast cancer when she was younger, in her 40s, and my mother has passed away from breast cancer as well. We were just trying to look at all the facts and make a conscious decision."

Lyon decided to have a bilateral, or double, mastectomy, even though her cancer was in one breast and she didn't have the BRCA gene mutation.

According to Dr. Neil B. Friedman, Director, The Hoffberger Breast Center at Mercy, more women with breast cancer who undergo mastectomies are choosing to have both breasts removed, even if they don't have to, but patients need to know the facts.

"One of the important things is that just because you have a bilateral mastectomy does not mean that your prognosis is going to improve. It doesn't mean you're going to do better. It's no different, and I think it's important for women to know that doing the opposite breast is not going to improve the long-term survival," Dr. Friedman said.

So why do women do it? There are many reasons, but two are most common.

"If this happened to me once, and there wasn't a family history, whatever it was, you know what? I don't want to go through this again. I want to have bilateral mastectomies and be finished with it," Dr. Friedman said. "The other common reason is, if they're going to get reconstruction, and the overwhelming majority of our patients who have a mastectomy do have reconstruction. 'I'm going to do both so that they're even, and then I'm finished.'"

View Dr. Friedman’s interview about mastectomy and breast cancer issues.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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