ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Missouri is one of the leading states where women are opting to have a contra-lateral pro-phylactic mastectomy – removal of a healthy breast along with the cancerous one.

Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado and South Dakota have the highest proportion of women opting to remove both the cancerous breast and the opposite healthy breast.

SLU Care breast cancer surgeon Dr. Theresa Schwartz at SSM Health SLU Hospital says the number of women opting for the surgery is surprising.

“I was honestly surprised by this number, because we do know from all the research that we have done that removing the opposite, unaffected breast does not improve survival. So there is no medical reason or cancer related reason to have the other breast removed, and seeing over 40 percent of women in the state of Missouri opting to have that operation done with no known survival benefits is definitely something we need to put more research efforts into,” she says.

The study found 42 percent of Missouri women between the ages of 20 and 44 who underwent surgery opted to remove both breasts.

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