Monday 09 December 2019

Dutch research finds preventative breast amputation not always better

Women who are carriers of the BRCA2 breast cancer gene do not have to undergo preventative breast amputation to lessen their risk of developing the disease, according to researchers at Rotterdam’s Erasmus teaching hospital quoted in Monday’s AD.

Carriers of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene have a 60% to 80% chance of developing breast cancer and hundreds of women have their breasts amputated every year in an effort to stop them developing the disease.

But the Erasmus researchers say women the survival rate for women with the BRCA2 gene is almost the same whether they have their breasts amputated or undergo six monthly check-ups.

By contrast, the survival rate for women with the BRCA1 gene was improved by breast amputation, the AD quoted the researchers as saying.

The research project involved following almost 3,000 women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes over a 10-year period.

While recognising that the news may be a blow to women who have undergone amputation, researcher Anette Heemskerk-Gerritsen told the AD that the results could also be a relief to some women.


‘Having your breasts amputated is very difficult for every woman,’ she said. ‘It is all about self image and sexuality. But it is good that the women who are wrestling with the decision now know they really have a choice.’

Some 15,000 people in the Netherlands develop breast cancer every year, making it most common form of the disease after skin cancer. has contacted Erasmus MC for comment. has been free for 13 years, but now we are asking our readers to help. Your donation will enable us to keep providing you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch.
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