National Previvor Day 2016
By: Courtney Floyd
This week is Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week and today is Previvor Day!
So who is a “Previvor?”
The term actually generated from a forum conversation on the FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) website:
"Cancer previvors" are individuals who are survivors of a predisposition to cancer but who haven’t had the disease. This group includes people who carry a hereditary mutation, a family history of cancer, or some other predisposing factor. The cancer previvor term evolved from a challenge on the FORCE main message board by Jordan, a website regular, who posted, "I need a label!" As a result, the term cancer previvor was chosen to identify those living with risk. The term specifically applies to the portion of our community which has its own unique needs and concerns separate from the general population, but different from those already diagnosed with cancer.
The medical community uses the term "unaffected carrier" to describe those who have not had cancer but have a BRCA or other cancer-predisposing mutation. The term applies from a medical perspective, but doesn't capture the experience of those who face an increased risk for cancer and the need to make medical management decisions. Although cancer previvors face some of the same fears as cancer survivors, undergoing similar tests and confronting similar medical management issues, they face a unique set of emotional, medical, and privacy concerns.
An individual with a high risk of developing breast cancer has many options for risk management including more frequent screenings and chemoprevention. Another options available is prophylactic mastectomy. Prophylactic mastectomy options include (a) total mastectomy, (b) skin-sparing mastectomy and (c) nipple-sparing mastectomy, each with variable degrees of scarring.
Most women choosing this surgery undergo immediate breast reconstruction which is performed at the same time as the mastectomy and provide the best cosmetic results.
For patients who elect to have prophylactic mastectomies, implant-based or tissue-based breast reconstruction is available.
Implant reconstruction can be either a direct to implant or a tissue expander to implant procedure. There are also many tissue-based (autologous) breast reconstruction options. At PRMA, the DIEP flap is our preferred method of breast reconstruction.
FORCE could not have said it better when they stated a Previvor faces a unique set of emotional concerns! They have big choices to make and all options take courage.
Today we recognize all of you amazing Previvors out there and each of your unique journeys!
A special thank you to FORCE for providing valuable information to patients with high risk for developing cancers and providing amazing support!