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.

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  • Jimmie

    I have had 5 masses removed 4 from my left breast and 1 from the right chest wall all benign. The last few years we are always watching a lump from one Mamo to another and it’s very mentally stressful. You see my mother died from breast cancer that metastasized to her lungs and other organs before they found it in 1974. A horrific death as it was to late for treatment of any kind. Does insurance cover the prophylactic procedure? I live in Arkansas, is there a group of surgeons here that will do the mastectomy and immediate reconstruction?

  • PRMA Plastic Surgery

    Hey Jimmie! I am so sorry to hear about the loss of you sweet mother! Insurance does cover prophylactic mastectomies, so beginning your search for a reconstructive surgeon is a great way to start your process. I am not familiar with surgeons in Arkansas, but PRMA does see out of state patients on a regular basis. I would be happy to provide you with more information on coming to PRMA for your reconstruction! Please feel free to give me a call at 800-692-5565 or email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

PRMA Plastic Surgery