If your client calls you and says she underwent a mastectomy don’t prejudge that the treatment is directly correlated to the severity of the cancer. That is not necessarily accurate. Lumpectomy coupled with radiation has the same survival rate as mastectomy for early stage breast cancer and is a less invasive surgical option. Because of these advantages, you would expect that more women would choose lumpectomy. However, one of the most extensive studies to date by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality concluded that the rate of mastectomies actually increased by 36% from 2005 to 2013 while the incidence of breast cancer remained relatively constant.
So why is the trend toward mastectomies?
Choosing a mastectomy does provide peace of mind in knowing that the entire breast is removed. The cancer is gone. Even though the chance of reoccurrence in the affected breast following lumpectomy is small, it is still there. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, a lumpectomy might result in the breast being distorted in shape. The breast might even be a different size. Advancements in surgical techniques increase the likelihood of a favorable reconstruction, a more natural appearance.
These are only a few examples of the valid medical and non-medical reasons to choose a mastectomy for early stage cancer. If your client tells you that her cancer was treated with a mastectomy, don’t assume that she had advanced disease. Regardless of the whether your client chooses lumpectomy or mastectomy; call us to review her situation. We constantly monitor the underwriting practices of our various carriers; we can guide you to the appropriate carrier for the best underwriting outcome.