Prophylactic Mastectomies Declining

April 28, 2019

The Jolie Effect

From hem length to handbags, celebrities are famous for starting trends. But in 2013, Angelina Jolie unknowingly started a trend when she decided to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer.

In the years following her decision, mastectomy rates increased. This was dubbed the “Jolie Effect.” However, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center is starting to see a decline in breast cancer patients opting for this type of mastectomy.

For Patients with Breast Cancer

Breast cancer patients referenced the superstar when they were weighing their options. But it’s important to remember that Jolie did not have breast cancer. She had a genetic mutation that increased her risk of developing breast cancer.

For a patient with breast cancer, the procedure doesn’t improve the overall chance of survival, according to Julie O’Brien, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center. Plus, the procedure has its own set of risks. That’s why making an informed decision is key.

Lahey helps breast cancer patients make the best choices by:

  • Encouraging patients to talk with a behavioral psychologist to help weigh their options.
  • Ensuring each decision is based on the patient’s unique situation.
  • Educating patients on the risks and benefits of all their options.

For Patients at Risk for Breast Cancer

About 90 to 95 percent of breast cancer cases are likely the result of aging, hormone exposure, diet or environmental exposures—not a genetic mutation. Lahey helps patients understand their risk by:

  • Providing risk assessment surveys to patients scheduled for mammograms.
  • Discussing high-risk breast cancer screening options, if necessary.
  • Referring patients for genetic counseling and testing, if necessary.

Lahey makes it a priority to educate patients—with and without breast cancer—so they can make the best decisions about prophylactic mastectomies.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.