Research Article

Consent for mastectomy.

Br Med J 1980; 281 doi: (Published 25 October 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;281:1097
  1. H J Thomson,
  2. S S Miller,
  3. S M Gore,
  4. A Bayliss


    The value of a system for reducing the number of women with breast lumps who consent unnecessarily to mastectomy was assessed. Sixty-one patients with breast lumps were divided preoperatively into three groups with benign, doubtful, and malignant lumps according to clinical, mammographic and ultrasound criteria. On the basis of these criteria written consent was requested from 29 patients for mastectomy and from 32 for only excision of the lump. Fourteen of the 29 patients who gave consent for mastectomy had carcinomas, and none of the 32 patients consenting to only lump excision. In an attempt to improve further on these results the same 61 patients were analysed retrospectively. Criteria based on age and the results of clinical examination and mammography were devised. By using these criteria only 19 women would have had to give consent for mastectomy. This new policy, which was devised to spare many women the stress of consenting unnecessarily to mastectomy, requires to be tested further in a much larger series of patients.