A hot topic among members of my online breast cancer support groups is whether to also remove the healthy breast when having a mastectomy. A double mastectomy can help with symmetry and balance. But many of my friends view the procedure as a way to prevent cancer from spreading to the other side, or to prevent a new cancer.
Statistically, the risk of developing cancer in the second breast is very low for most women, as low as one per cent. Yet between 1998 and 2011, the rate of bilateral surgery increased from around 2 percent among all women undergoing mastectomy to 11 percent.