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Young Women Choosing Mastectomies

Posted 7/23/2013

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  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.

  Many women making this decision have said to me something like this: "I just don't want to go through this again." or "I know I will be worried every day about cancer coming back if I keep my breast (s)." Major important point: I am totally on the side of whatever a woman chooses and will fully support her choice as well as her right to make it for herself. I do, however, fret about the facts and try hard to insure that she understands the full situation. This understanding includes some frank talks about reconstruction with the surgeon, plastic surgeon, and just as important, with women who have had the surgery. Reconstruction can be tough, is sometimes a long process, and even the best outcome is not a natural breast.

  These comments are stimulated by the article from Living Beyong Breast Cancer's report on a recent study indicating that more young women are indeed opting for mastectomy. A study presented at ASCO in June indicated that more than 60% if women under 40 who were given the surgical choice opted for mastectomy.

Here is the link:

 Young Women More Often Choose Mastectomy Over Lumpectomy

 http://www.lbbc.org/Understanding-Breast-Cancer/Breast-Cancer-News/Young-Women-More-Often-Choose-Mastectomy-Over-Lumpectomy/(language)/eng-US

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  • Patricia Hogan said:
    7/23/2013 12:51 PM

    Another factor in this decision is that mastectomy usually means no radiation treatment. I had breast cancer 19 years ago and opted for a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. I have often regretted the decision to do the radiation as it has left me with pain, increased heart disease risk, and the possible long term effects of radiation in terms of cancer causation. Like Hester, I fully support every woman's right to make her own decision and indeed, I made the decision that felt right for me at the time. I wonder why there isn't more discussion of the long term side effects of radiation when the lumptectomy option is discussed.

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