When it comes to breast cancer surgery, there actually are several options available. This article will discuss three – prophylactic mastectomy, prophylactic ovary removal and cryotherapy. Whatever a patient’s decision, there needs to be research, a thorough consultation with your medical team and even a second opinion because, in many cases, once surgery is performed, the changes are permanent.
Simply defined, prophylactic mastectomy is the surgical removal of both breasts, used as a precautionary step to avoid the development of cancer. This is a very drastic and invasive medical procedure. As stated before, careful consideration and a thorough investigation should be done before any decision is made. Who should consider this procedure? According to BreastCancer.org, the following persons may want to consider this type of surgery:
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer;
If you’ve tested positive for BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations;
If you have a personal history of breast cancer;
If you have been diagnosed with lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS);
If you have had radiation therapy to the chest before age 30; or
If you have widely spread breast calcifications or you have dense breasts.
There are two types of prophylactic mastectomy surgeries - simple or total mastectomy and subcutaneous mastectomy. During the simple or total mastectomy, the nipple, areola and all the breast tissue are removed but none of the axillary lymph nodes or chest wall muscles are. The subcutaneous mastectomy, however, leaves the nipple while all the breast tissue is cut away. This procedure has come under scrutiny because when breast tissue of any amount is left behind, breast cancer risk is still present.
Risks of Prophylactic Mastectomy
Prophylactic mastectomy surgery has normal risks as any other surgery:
Bleeding or infection;
Fluid collecting under the scar;
Delayed wound healing; and
Scar tissue formation.
Additional risks may include:
surgical changes that are permanent and irreversible;
significant loss of sensation in the breast which may impact sexuality;