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  • Little Value from Prophylactic Mastectomy

    Posted 10/9/2013 by hhill
      I have written many times about the rising choice of prophylactic mastectomies for women who are also offered the option of lesser surgery. Note: the situation of women who carry a genetic mutation, BRCA1 or BRCA2, is obviously different. We are thinking here about women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, told by a surgeon that a lumpectomy/wide excision and radiation is an equally effective treatment, and who opt for either one or even two mastectomies. No matter what else is said, it is clear that these women believe that they are increasing their chances to stay healthy by having more surgery. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Drugs Before Surgery

    Posted 10/1/2013 by hhill
      Over the past years, there has been an increasing use of "neoadjuvant" treatment for women with newly diagnosed breast cancer. This means that some women have received chemotherapy before surgery (obviously, after a biopsy) in an attempt to shrink the tumor and eventually allow a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy. In my clinical experience, this has often been successful, and I have known many women whose treatment was planned in this way. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Understanding Risk and Surgical Decisions

    Posted 9/20/2013 by hhill
      This is another in my continuing series about surgical decisions. Although I will always support a woman's decisions for herself, I often feel that women do not fully understand the realities of cancer risk and the consequences of surgery. Surgeons, in general, resist removing healthy organs and usually push back, at least a bit, if a woman wants her other (non-cancer) breast removed. They may also push back a bit if a woman chooses mastectomy with lumpectomy/wide excision would be an equally sound medical decision. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Young Women Choosing Mastectomies

    Posted 7/23/2013 by hhill
      I have written often about the increasing trend towards mastectomies "by choice" (not talking here about women, like Angelina Joline, who opt for prophylactic mastectomies because of high risk but about women with a breast cancer diagnosis who are offered the chocie of either mastectomy or lumpectomy). There is a lot of concern in Cancer World about this trend. The worries are related to surgeons' disinclination to do unnecessary surgery or remove a healthy breast and to concerns that women don't truly understand their future health risks and believe that removing one or two breasts will increase their chances of staying alive. Of course, this is sometimes true, but most often the risk to our future health is metastasis from the cancer we already have and removing a breast (or two breasts) won't make a bit of difference in that risk. Read more... Comments (1)
  • Crowd Funding and Reconstructions Bras

    Posted 6/22/2013 by hhill
      The whole concept of crowdfunding delights me. I first heard about this on NPR some months ago; that story was about declining federal dollars for grants, and some scientists turning to crowdfunding as a way to finance their work. Sometimes it came through and sometimes it didn't--but that is the nature of grant applications, too. This story from The New York Times is about a small business dedicated to making bras for women who have had mastectomies and reconstruction. Read more... Comments (0)
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