Monday, April 22, 2013

Breast cancer risk reduction

There is a new trend in women who are deemed to be  at high risk for breast cancer to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. A mastectomy is not minor surgery and comes with its own set of risks. Women who then want reconstruction can be faced with months of additional surgery as well as the issue of implant replacement later in life. Other side effects can linger such as lymphedema for a lifetime.

A new government task force (who is spending our money on these things) announced that high risk women should consider taking either tamoxifen or raloxifene to reduce their risk. While the drugs carry their own risks, they also can be stopped. A mastectomy is irreversible.

I realize this is a very personal decision and emotions can rule the decision making process. Perhaps this study will help women not make such a drastic step.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another medically recommended option for high risk women -- like those with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations -- is to do enhanced surveillance. Typically that would mean a mammogram once per year, with an MRI 6 months after, so they are never more than 6 months without some kind of screening test. The prophylactic mastectomy route is not the only possible choice, though it certainly gets more media attention than does enhanced screening.