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Women's Health Blog

Preventative Breast Surgery: How to Decide if it’s Right for Me

Whether your role is a mom, grandmother, aunt, sister, wife, or friend, did you know there are surgical steps you can take to help protect yourself from the all too common disease of breast cancer—even if you are currently cancer free?

Though you may complete your monthly at-home breast self-exams and your routine mammograms, there is still a chance you may have to do more to prevent your chances of developing breast cancer in the future.

 

To Determine if Preventative Surgery is Right for You, Ask Yourself:

  • Do I have a personal history with breast cancer? Have you had breast cancer in one of your breasts in the past?
  • Does my family have a history of breast cancer? According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a first-degree female relative such as a mom, daughter, or sister with breast cancer doubles your risk of developing the disease. Age also plays a factor—family members under age 40 with the diagnosis increase your chances, too.
  • Have I been tested for BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, CDH1, PTEN, or TP52 gene mutation? If you test positive for any of these, you may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Have I been diagnosed with lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)? This signifies the likelihood of invasive breast cancer developing.
  • Have I had radiation therapy done on my chest before age 30?
  • Have I been told I have small deposits of calcium in my breast tissue? Has your doctor found a cluster of these in your breast? Occasionally this can indicate a risk for breast cancer.

The most common type of preventive surgery for women concerned about developing breast cancer is called a prophylactic mastectomy. By removing one or both breasts, you can decrease your level of risk significantly.

According to the National Cancer Institute, a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy can decrease your chances of developing breast cancer by 90 percent for those who have a family history of the disease and 95 percent for those with mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

 

More to Think About

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, depending on the stage and type, your doctor will present you with the option to have a breast-sparing surgery with radiation therapy such as a lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, breast-conserving surgery, or segmental mastectomy.  Surgery options will most likely be a mastectomy or a mastectomy with breast reconstruction. Talk to your breast cancer surgeon to find out what options work best for you and your lifestyle.

It’s important to realize that although surgery is a preventative step, it’s not right for everyone, and it doesn’t necessarily eliminate your chances of developing breast cancer in the future. Talk to your doctor to find out more about if breast surgery is right for you.

 

If you’re considering surgery to treat or prevent breast cancer and have questions, we're here to help. Talk to Kathy Cook, Breast Health Nurse Navigator at (302) 645-3630.