NEW DELHI: A breast cancer surgeon from UK has made an attempt to dispel the ‘myth’ of mastectomy, being demanded by a lot of people who are suffering from or risk breast cancer. She called the practice of mastectomy (complete removal of breasts) less practical than breast-conserving surgery, lumpectomy.

Calling the current practice of bilateral mastectomy ‘medieval’, Fiona MacNeill of London’s Royal Marsden hospital, said, 'I am facing a tsunami of requests from women with breast cancer who want bilateral [double] mastectomies, driven by fear and a failure to understand the risks.

'They think that if it is good enough for Angelina Jolie, it is good enough for me.'

She pleaded the patients to consider the alternatives available to them before going for their breast removal which may leave them disfigured.

In the year 2013 Jolie had both her breast removed and gone under reconstructive surgery when she discovered that she carried a BRCA1 gene which increased her chances of getting breast cancer by 87% and ovarian cancer by 50 %. She later got her ovaries removed too.

'The Jolie story has been very powerful. Women who come to me with breast cancer all say they want a bilateral mastectomy (like she had).

“But it is important to remember that Angelina did not have breast cancer. For women who actually do, a mastectomy is like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

In the majority of cases, the operation will not give any better chance of survival. It is all the other bits of treatment they now receive that will give them the best fighting chance,” MacNeill said this while speaking at San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas.

The study on which MacNeill based her arguments involved data of 37,207 patients. These patients were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2004. The study reckoned how these patients fared till ten years later and how many of them were still alive.

Among them just over half of the patients went for lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy, the rest went for mastectomy with chemotherapy and no radiotherapy. Overall, 76 per cent women who went underwent BCT (breast conserving therapy) were alive against 59.7 per cent who had mastectomy done, as reported by Daily Mail.