Numerous women opt to get a mastectomy today, especially if they have a predisposition towards getting breast cancer via the BRCA gene.
The New York Times reports on mastectomies.
One New York patient told the NY Times about her experience after getting a mastectomy. She is currently fifty-eight years old and decided to get a mastectomy five years ago when her doctor told her that she has the early stages of breast cancer.
While the patient says she does not regret getting a mastectomy, she does wish that she had been given more information about it. She said she wishes that her doctors had told her the fact that the process of reconstruction would drag on for five months and leave her forever unable to sleep on her stomach, or that it would leave her with no sensation ‘from the front all the way to the back in the entire bra area,’ she said, ‘nothing, zero, zip’.
The patient did admit that there are days when she asks herself whether she made the right decision. Her mother had two different types of cancer so she wanted to be ‘proactive’. When she remembers what her mother went through she feels that she made the right choice.
The number of women opting to have a mastectomy is growing despite the fact that it does not improve their chances of survival according to a new study.
“Now a new study, based on surveys of thousands of women, suggests women who have double mastectomies also do not benefit from a big improvement in quality of life, either,” according to The Times. The new study was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Almost 4,000 women who had mastectomies underwent extensive surveys for the study.
The objective of the authors of the new study was to find out whether getting a mastectomy would improve the quality of life of the patients who were opting for the procedure.
Dr. E. Shelley Hwang, the chief of breast surgery at Duke Cancer Institute, who led the study, commented on the findings. She said, “Quite a few studies have shown that in patients who don’t have a genetic mutation that increases breast cancer risk, the benefit from removing the healthy breast — purely from a cancer perspective — is zero to tiny at best.”
Dr. Hwang found that the results showed that the advantages would be marginal at best. She said she did not want to come across negative, because some women ‘had very good results and are happy they made the decision’. She said however that the patient should know that they are not better off, they generally are not happier, and they generally ‘do not feel better about their sexuality by having the healthy breast removed’.
Despite these facts, the number of women getting a mastectomy has more than tripled in the last decade. “In 2011, about 11 percent of women who were having a mastectomy for cancer chose C.P.M., compared with less than 2 percent in 1998,” according to The Times. Numerous breast cancer specialists are actually concerned about the growing trend.