Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp 529–538

Synchronous elective contralateral mastectomy and immediate bilateral breast reconstruction in women with early-stage breast cancer

  • Jeffrey E. Gershenwald
  • Kelly K. Hunt
  • Stephen S. Kroll
  • Merrick I. Ross
  • Bonnie J. Baldwin
  • Barry W. Feig
  • Frederick C. Ames
  • Mark A. Schusterman
  • S. Eva Singletary
Original Articles


Background: The role of elective contralateral mastectomy (ECM) in women with early-stage breast cancer who elect or require an ipsilateral mastectomy and desire immediate bilateral breast reconstruction (IBR) is an intellectual and emotional dilemma for both patient and physician. In an attempt to clarify the rationale for this approach, we reviewed our experience with ECM and IBR and evaluated operative morbidity, the incidence of occult contralateral breast cancer, and patterns of recurrence.

Patients and Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the records of 155 patients with primary unilateral breast cancer (stage 0, I, or II) and negative findings on physical and mammographic examinations of the contralateral breast who underwent ipsilateral mastectomy and simultaneous ECM with IBR between 1987 and 1995.

Results: The median age of the patients was 46 years (range, 25 to 69 years). Clinical stage at diagnosis was stage 0, I, and II in 19.4%, 54.2%, and 26.4% of patients, respectively. Factors likely to influence the use of ECM were family history of breast cancer in first-degree relatives (30%), any family history of breast cancer (56%), difficulty anticipated in contralateral breast surveillance (48%), associated lobular carcinoma in situ (23%), multicentric primary tumor (28%), significant reconstructive issues (14%), and failure of mammographic identification of the primary tumor (16%). Skin-sparing mastectomies were performed in 81% of patients. Overall, 70% of patients underwent reconstruction using autogenous tissue transfer. Reoperations for suspected anastomotic thrombosis were performed in seven patients. Two patients experienced significant partial or complete flap loss. Histopathologic findings in the ECM specimen were as follows: benign, 80% of patients; atypical ductal hyperplasia, 12% of patients; lobular carcinoma in situ, 6.5% of patients; ductal carcinoma in situ, 2.7% of patients; and invasive carcinoma, 1.3% of patients. Eighteen patients (12%) had evidence of locoregional or distant recurrences, with a median follow-up of 3 years. In one patient (0.6%), invasive ductal carcinoma developed on the side of the elective mastectomy.

Conclusions: The use of ECM and IBR cannot be justified if the only oncologic criterion considered is the incidence of occult synchronous contralateral disease. However, in a highly selected population of young patients with a difficult clinical or mammographic examination and an increased lifetime risk of developing a second primary tumor, ECM and IBR is a safe approach.

Key Words

Breast cancer Elective contralateral mastectomy Bilateral reconstruction 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Surgical Oncology, Inc. 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey E. Gershenwald
    • 1
  • Kelly K. Hunt
    • 1
  • Stephen S. Kroll
    • 2
  • Merrick I. Ross
    • 1
  • Bonnie J. Baldwin
    • 2
  • Barry W. Feig
    • 1
  • Frederick C. Ames
    • 1
  • Mark A. Schusterman
    • 2
  • S. Eva Singletary
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Surgical OncologyThe University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer CenterHouston
  2. 2.the Department of Plastic SurgeryThe University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer CenterHouston

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