Would You Opt For a Double Mastectomy Based On Cancer Risk Alone?

A Prophylactic Mastectomy, also known as Preventative Mastectomy, is the procedure of removing both breasts to prevent breast cancer from occurring. This practice has been proven to be very effective in lowering the risk of breast cancer in women. Nevertheless, this procedure is the most drastic measure someone could take in combating the risk of breast cancer. There are other alternatives to consider.

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Here are some of the pros and cons of preventative mastectomies.

Pros:

  • Stark Statistics: Lifetime risk of regular (11%) and contralateral breast cancer (10%) in woman is 
Contralateral breast cancer is when the cancer mutation develops in the other breast.

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  • Screenings Don’t Prevent, Only Detect: Screenings can pick up the cancer mutation, but no screening method can prevent breast cancer from occurring.

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  • Breast-Cancer Reducing Drug Not for Everyone: There have been the production of breast-cancer reducing drugs, such as tamoxifen and raloxifen, but not all women can take these.

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  • Psychological Reassurance: Nothing provides the same amount of confidence and reassurance that the risk of breast cancer has been dramatically reduced than a preventative mastectomy

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  • Life Expectancy: Doing a preventative mastectomy can potentially increase the life expectancy in young women who have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

Cons:

  • Potential Problems with Breast Implants: When doing breast implant surgery, there is a risk of complications which include capsular contracture (scar tissue that forms around the implant and squeezes the implant), breast pain, change in nipple and breast sensation, rupture with deflation of saline-filled implants, or rupture with or without symptoms (silent rupture)

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  • Impact on Sensuality/Sexuality: Although this is one of the lesser issues when it comes to something as horrible as cancer, it still does prose a con. When having your breasts completely removed (regardless of the option of breast implants), you will lose all sensation in your breast area and nipple.

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  • Residual Risk: Although Preventative Mastectomies can highly decrease the risk of breast cancer, it doesn’t completely eliminate the risk by 100%. There is a slight percentage of developing breast cancer in the remaining tissue even post-mastectomy

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