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COLUMBIA - A new study found Missouri women are more likely to choose a mastectomy or double mastectomy even if the cancer is only in one breast.

The study from American Cancer Society, Emory University and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute looked at the records of 1.2 million women with cancer diagnosed in one breast between 2004 and 2012.

The team found women from Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado, Iowa, and South Dakota were much more likely than other women to have preventive mastectomies.

Dr. Anne Petersen with Boone Hospital Center in Columbia said there are multiple reasons that could be causing this trend.

“One of the things that can be more difficult in states like Missouri is those on the outskirts of the area, if they’re having to drive long distances each way to get radiation treatment, sometimes that makes the decision for them,” Petersen said.

She said women might not have the access to transportation needed to make the trips for treatment.

The study also found more women are opting for double mastectomies, even if the cancer is only in one breast.

Only about 15 percent of women with early stage breast cancer in Hawaii and the District of Columbia opted to have the healthy breast removed.

In Missouri and the other four states, however, more than 42 percent of patients opted for the preventive surgery.

“If every year you’re going in to have another mammogram and worrying, ‘Is this the time when I’m going to have another cancer? Is this the time when I’m going to be called back to have another biopsy?’ and really becoming fretful every year at the time of mammogram. Some of them are making that decision so they never have to go through this again,” Petersen said.

Petersen said even though the risks are fairly low, with less than 10 percent developing cancer in the second breast, it can be difficult to convince a patient. 

Patients have many options when diagnosed with breast cancer. Petersen said it is important to have a conversation with a surgeon.

“Sometimes the first knee-jerk reaction that women have is ‘Just get it out. No matter what it takes, just get it out,’ and then they come to regret that decision,” Petersen said.

She said patients should talk to the surgeon about the positives and negatives of all options and discuss the individual’s desires before making a decision.

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