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More on Bilateral Mastectomies

Posted 8/19/2014

Posted in

  If this is feeling like the topic that won't go away, you're right. It won't. Within the past week, I have met with three women who were considering whether to opt for single or bilateral mastectomies after a recent diagnosis of either DCIS or invasive breast cancer in one breast. Important note: these women had all been tested and do not carry a BRCA gene.

  Once again, I do and will always fully support a woman's choices about her body and her care. It does worry me, though, that women often make this irrecovable decision without adequate information and with panic. We all remember and appreciate the panic of those early days, but it is worth remembering that breast cancer is rarely a medical emergency. A newly diagnosed woman can almost always take time to talk with doctors, gather information, make the best possible informed decisions for herself.

  This is an excellent posting from She says it all.



wup: prophylactic mastectomy for average women


I wanted to followup on my previous post about Peggy Orenstein’s article on prophylactic mastectomy for average women with breast cancer because I’m seeing some chat about it in BRCA+ communities that disturbs me.
First of all, some BRCA+ women are getting really defensive about the article, posting things like “PBM saved my life!” or “when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my right breast, I had a double mastectomy and they found cancer in my left breast too!”
This makes me wonder if these women have actually read Orenstein’s article, which focuses on
mastectomies for newly diagnosed women who don’t have a BRCA mutation. There have been many scientific studies about average women without BRCA mutations removing their healthy breast along with their cancerous breast after diagnosis. The scientific evidence shows that bilateral mastectomy does not improve survival rates for breast cancer patients who not have a BRCA mutation–repeat, in patients who do not have a BRCA mutation.
I don’t know why some BRCA+ women are getting so riled up about this. The circumstances of BRCA+ women are quite different from those of BRCA- women, and Orenstein’s argument does not apply to us.
She makes it perfectly clear that she’s writing about “CPM” (contra-lateral prophylactic mastectomy for average women), not “PBM” (prophylactic bilateral mastectomy for BRCA+ women).

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