Double Mastectomy….Is It For Me?
Nearly 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during the course of their lifetime according to the American Cancer Society. And in 2015, an estimated 231,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States alone. Recently, there has been an extraordinary upswing in women choosing a double mastectomy (as high as 150% increase over the last 10 years) as their course of treatment even when cancer is found only in one breast.
Dr. Greg Grant, surgeon, and Dr. Amrit Mangat, breast surgeon, both with DuPage Medical Group and the High Risk Breast Clinic, talk about the increased prevalence of double mastectomy and how to know if it is the right treatment for you.
When a patient is informed they have breast cancer a myriad of emotions occur and a lot happens prior to reaching a final decision on their treatment. Generally double mastectomy is appropriate for a patient diagnosed with cancer in one breast and at high risk for recurrence because of family history. A double mastectomy may also be recommended for women not yet diagnosed if they carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, with its high risk of developing cancer. However, double mastectomy is not the best choice for all breast cancer patients, nor does it eliminate fear or recurrence, so why are women choosing this treatment route?
There are a few reasons that have led to the growth of this treatment choice.
- Empowered decision making.
- Women have become more empowered in the decision making process when it comes to their individualized treatment plan. Plus, through the use of the internet and breast cancer support community, more information and education on treatment options can be obtained quickly and easily.
- Many patients site the need to reduce their fear and anxiety they have about their cancer and reducing that fear in the future as much as possible by removing both of their breasts.
- Genetic testing identifying level of risk.
- Genetic testing is now a widespread practice which has enabled doctors to identify certain patients at "high risk", which in turn has increased the recommendation by breast surgeons to remove both of the breasts.
- Advances in radiology.
- As technology continues to evolve and become more readily available, there has been an increase in breast MRI utilization which some feel has translated into an increased trend towards double mastectomy.
- Advancements in plastic surgery.
- Advancements in plastic and reconstructive surgery have made obtaining optimal cosmetic results more widespread.
In the event you are faced with this difficult decision, please consult your surgeon to discuss all treatment options available to you and work together to make a decision that seems right to both you and your physician.