Prophylactic Mastectomy for Breast Cancer Prevention on the Rise
By: Brandy (Korman) Haslam
How common is prophylactic mastectomy for breast cancer?
As breast cancer rates continue to increase, more women are choosing to take a proactive approach when it comes to reducing their risk—many opting for prophylactic mastectomy.
Prophylactic (or preventive) mastectomies have been a hot topic for the past year, especially after Angelina Jolie announced her decision to have the procedure after learning she carries the BRCA gene. The procedure was also a topic of discussion at this year’s Texas Adolescent & Young Adult Oncology (TAYA) conference.
Dr. Chrysopoulo, who was one of the invited speakers at the conference, says that high-risk patients who opt for prophylactic mastectomy have at least a 90% reduction in breast cancer risk and almost 100% reduction in breast cancer related death, making it an appealing option for high-risk patients.
Studies have shown that the number of women seeking the procedure has increased significantly over the last several years, particularly contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (mastectomy on the breast unaffected by cancer).
Candidates for the surgery include those with a personal history of breast cancer, a positive BRCA gene test, a strong family history, those who’ve experienced widespread breast calcifications or have dense breasts, and those with a history of LCIS.
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 opt for breast reconstruction which is usually performed at the same time as the mastectomy for the best cosmetic results. There are several reconstructive options including "flap" techniques which use the patient's own tissue, or breast implants.
When choosing to have a tissue reconstruction, Dr. Chrysopoulo says that often times the sensory nerve from the flap can be reconnected to the chest during the surgery to give patients back some of the sensation that is lost during mastectomy, which is great news!
The decision to have a prophylactic mastectomy and immediate reconstruction is not an easy one. PRMA has a great support group and phenomenal advocate team in place to help other ladies facing these tough decisions.
To get in touch with our advocate team or to learn more about our support group, please call 800.692.5565.
To view Dr. Chrysopoulo's TAYA presentation in full, click here.