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  • Little Value from Prophylactic Mastectomy

    Posted 10/9/2013 by hhill
      I have written many times about the rising choice of prophylactic mastectomies for women who are also offered the option of lesser surgery. Note: the situation of women who carry a genetic mutation, BRCA1 or BRCA2, is obviously different. We are thinking here about women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, told by a surgeon that a lumpectomy/wide excision and radiation is an equally effective treatment, and who opt for either one or even two mastectomies. No matter what else is said, it is clear that these women believe that they are increasing their chances to stay healthy by having more surgery. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Drugs Before Surgery

    Posted 10/1/2013 by hhill
      Over the past years, there has been an increasing use of "neoadjuvant" treatment for women with newly diagnosed breast cancer. This means that some women have received chemotherapy before surgery (obviously, after a biopsy) in an attempt to shrink the tumor and eventually allow a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy. In my clinical experience, this has often been successful, and I have known many women whose treatment was planned in this way. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Understanding Risk and Surgical Decisions

    Posted 9/20/2013 by hhill
      This is another in my continuing series about surgical decisions. Although I will always support a woman's decisions for herself, I often feel that women do not fully understand the realities of cancer risk and the consequences of surgery. Surgeons, in general, resist removing healthy organs and usually push back, at least a bit, if a woman wants her other (non-cancer) breast removed. They may also push back a bit if a woman chooses mastectomy with lumpectomy/wide excision would be an equally sound medical decision. Read more... Comments (0)
  • Dating after Breast Cancer

    Posted 9/18/2013 by hhill
      Many women find the prospect of dating quite daunting. This is especially true after breast cancer, but I have known a number of women who found husbands/partners after cancer and who eventually felt that their health experience contributed to the richness and value of their relationship. In addition to the standard stresses and concerns about dating, breast cancer usually adds issues around body image, self-esteem, anxiety about the future, sadness about what has transpired. Read more... Comments (1)
  • Persistent Post Mastectomy Pain

    Posted 9/17/2013 by hhill
      Attention is finally being paid to the rather common problem (best guess is that one third of women post mastectomy experience it) of chronic pain after mastectomy. My personal experience of a mastectomy without reconstruction has, blessedly, not included pain although I still feel the stretch when my extend my arm fully over my head (and have felt that since the 1993 surgery) and occasionally feel brief muscle spasms, like a charley horse, in my chest. Read more... Comments (0)
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