PREVENTIVE MASTECTOMIES: A PERSONAL DECISION
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.