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Fear of breast cancer recurrence prompting women to choose prophylactic mastectomy

December 5, 2012


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December 31, 2012

Bravo Mary for weighing your options and having such great docs who didn’t try to panic you into have chemo or mastectomy for your Stage 1 dcis. There’s definitely a lot of overkill and overtreatment for dcis in particular when a lumpectomy would be sufficient. I, for one, cannot understand why any woman would opt for a “preventive” mastc on a healthy breast. The fact that this procedure has continued to rise is proof that doctors are not doing a good job of informing patients, and patients are being panicked by the pink lobby and other groups who gain from the fear factor. Let’s focus on the medical facts – the 1% of patients who have recurrence in the healthy breast – rather than making the situation look worse than it is, Let’s stop pandering to fear. This article contained very good and balanced advice for women to consider. Apparently even when surgeons and docs tell women that a double mastect. is not necessary, women still do it. That really needs to stop, maybe the Susan Komen group can help with the problem somehow? Otherwise, the panic will continue. So glad you are still doing well 10 years later Mary, that’s great!

Dr. James Meschino
December 14, 2012

A significant number of experimental and clinical research studies suggest that certain dietary practices and the use of specific nutritional supplements may be of value in help to prevent recurrence or progression of certain cancers.

Dr. James Meschino

Virginia Sparrow
December 13, 2012

Many women today are celebrating because they survive from the breast cancer. We may prevent this by observing our body and doing regular check ups. Thank’s for sharing all of your story.

December 7, 2012

I feel fortunate to have a Cancer Center in Milwaukee, WI.
The team of doctors treated me like a queen.
I did express to them the fear of having cancer in the other breast but they explained the issue in very simple words:
We see two buildings: they are very different from each other.
I appreciate the help I had. Chemo, surgery and radiation went well. I spent one hour dancing salsa before going to the hospital during treatment. Never felt nausea only the feeling to go to bed early to rest and be ready for the following day. Always gave thanks to the Lord for allowing me the privilege to spend one more day in this wonderful place called EARTH.

December 7, 2012

My sister had a breast cancer and a mastectomy. Because we both have a history of childhood radiation to our tonsils, she elected a mastectomy, chemo and no radiation. Six months later she chose a second mastectomy because she hated being lopsided (she was large breasted) and because she didn’t want to worry about a tumor in the other breast and having a lot of monitoring. She has been perfectly happy with her decision. Don’t downplay the anxiety associated with follow-up. I know patients need to fully understand the odds but the docs need to fully understand the anxiety associated with living and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

December 14, 2012

Hi Lynn, I love your sister’s story, she’s so brave! I think that if I had breast cancer I would also go for elective mastectomy. After all, nowadays you can have a breast reconstruction… that’s awesome! Regards.

Catherine ~
December 5, 2012

It’s a huge fear to have cancer reoccur – and many women struggle with the emotional side of cancer after diagnosis. I was never offered the option of a bilateral mastectomy. . . and I’m glad to have kept the healthy breast. But it’s given me panic attacks more than once.

I guess I’m simply saying this is an emotional time, and the choices for surgery have huge fears associated. Whoever is guiding the patient through their decision making, please do so with patience and compassion. Explaining tht bit about the 1% can’t hurt either. ~Catherine

December 6, 2012

I had a lumpectomy for stage 1 in situ ductal carcinoma 10 years ago. At the same time, I underwent experimental bone marrow testing for cancer cells. The purpose was to determine if there were tests that could potentially predict the chance of re-occurrence. The lumpectomy was performed 2x (no clear margins the first time). I underwent radiation and took tamoxifen 4.5yrs. My mother had breast cancer in 1971 and survived 30+ yrs with a radical mastectomy so I understood what that option entailed. My pathology report indicated estrogen positive tubular cells (very slow growing, non-aggressive) and clear lymph nodes. What threw a whole monkey wrench into the evaluation was the bone marrow test – it was POSITIVE and showed 1 cancer cell per million. So what to do? I spoke to my oncologist, radiologist and surgeon. At the end of the day for me it was a statistical evaluation / decision. Patients need to fully understand the odds and what’s contributing to them. I decided to NOT undergo chemo, and NOT have a mastectomy. Two out of three doctors felt that the single cancer cell could be treated as an outlier, as we all have normally occurring mutated cells in our body. Over 10 years later I am cancer free. I also had BRCA 1/2 testing performed because I was very concerned about ovarian cancer and tested negative. The chances of cancer re-occurring were said to be 4%. It did not make sense (to me) to have chemo, or mastectomy for an additional 1 to 2 percentage points of certainty. I may have cancer again, but it won’t be due to the 2001 occurrence. As Catherine mentioned above, helping patients understand the probabilities inherent in the treatments would be helpful. I’m happy to have preserved my breast.

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