PREVENTIVE MASTECTOMIES: A PER­SO­NAL DE­CI­SION

Le Reflet (The News) - - COMMUNITY -

A preventive (or pro­phy­lac­tic) mas­tec­to­my is a sur­ge­ry used to re­move one or both breasts as a pre­cau­tio­na­ry mea­sure to prevent breast can­cer from oc­cur­ring. It’s in­ten­ded for wo­men car­rying the as­so­cia­ted gene mu­ta­tion and who are thus at ve­ry high risk of de­ve­lo­ping this type of can­cer. And though this pro­ce­dure great­ly re­duces their chances of de­ve­lo­ping breast can­cer, it’s no­ne­the­less an ex­tre­me­ly dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion for these wo­men to make. A preventive mas­tec­to­my consists of re­mo­ving all of the breast tis­sue, which is the af­fec­ted area where breast can­cer de­ve­lops. There exist th­ree types of sur­ge­ries: to­tal, skin-spa­ring (which conserves as much as the breast skin as pos­sible), and nipple-spa­ring mas­tec­to­my (which pre­serves the en­tire skin en­ve­lope, areo­la and nipple). Each pro­ce­dure has its ad­van­tages and di­sad­van­tages. It’s im­por­tant to dis­cuss the li­mi­ta­tions of each sur­ge­ry at length with your doc­tor to avoid re­gret­ting your de­ci­sion. In­ci­den­tal­ly, most preventive mastectomies in­volve breast re­cons­truc­tion. Mam­mo­plas­ty usual­ly oc­curs im­me­dia­te­ly fol­lo­wing sur­ge­ry. The sur­geon will en­large the tis­sue using an ex­pan­der to make room for the even­tual im­plant. Stu­dies show that this type of pro­ce­dure re­duces the risk of breast can­cer by up to 95% in wo­men car­rying the ge­ne­tic mu­ta­tion. Ho­we­ver, mas­tec­to­my can in­volve un­fa­vou­rable conse­quences on your self-confi­dence and your re­la­tion­ship with your bo­dy. That’s why op­ting for this sur­ge­ry should ne­ver be done light­ly. It’s a per­so­nal de­ci­sion that must be gi­ven much consi­de­ra­tion.

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