Objective: Prophylactic mastectomy (PM) is often considered, but variably chosen by women at high inherited risk of breast cancer; few data exist on patient tolerance of intensive breast screening as an alternative to PM. We performed an evaluation of high-risk women's tolerance of a breast screening protocol using clinical breast examination, mammography, breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ductal lavage (DL), and of change in attitudes toward PM after screening.
Design: A questionnaire assessing tolerance of screening procedures and change in opinion towards PM was designed and administered to 43 study participants, after a median follow-up of 13 months. Responses were evaluated according to patient characteristics, including type of study-prompted interventions, BRCA mutation status, and prior history of cancer, via univariate analysis.
Results: Most patients [85.3% (68.9-95.1%)] were more opposed or unchanged in their attitudes towards PM after study participation, with only 14.7% (5.0-31.1%) less opposed (P = 0.017) despite a short-interval follow-up MRI rate of 71.7% and a biopsy rate of 37%. Lower rates of maximal discomfort were reported with mammogram [2.8% (0-14.5%)] and MRI [5.6% (0-18.7%)] than with DL [28.6% (14.6-46.3%)], with P = 0.035.
Conclusions: Most high-risk women tolerated intensive breast screening well; they were not more inclined towards PM after participating. Future studies should prospectively evaluate larger numbers of high-risk women via multivariate analysis, to determine characteristics associated with preference for breast screening vs. PM.