Many women are genetically disposed to breast cancer and are in the high risk category due to many factors that can be hereditary, lifestyle and diet. If a woman is found to be in the high risk category, it does not always mean that she will develop breast cancer.
It is reported that with only a small percentage of women who are in the high risk category actually develop breast cancer. This surely means that some kind of prevention is very beneficial for stopping the development of the disease.
Breast tissue removal is considered by many women as a preventive measure when they are in the high risk category. There are varying degrees of tissue removal from complete mastectomy to selective removal of breast tissue depending on the severity of the risk and the age of the woman who is involved.
Preventive mastectomy is different from normal mastectomy in that the breast tissue that is removed is not cancerous. Here, the procedure involves removing healthy breast tissue to prevent the occurrence of cancer at a later stage.
This is mostly done by women who are older and who have had an episode of breast cancer or fall in the high risk category due to genetic disposition. For younger women, this is rarely done or if done would require breast reconstruction or implants to restore the shape of the breasts.
Types Of Preventive Mastectomy
Total mastectomy is the complete removal of the breast tissue including the nipples. This is mostly done for patients who have had breast cancer before and have a genetic disposition as well.
Total mastectomy can be done in one or both the breast to protect yourself from breast cancer. Doctors normally recommend a total mastectomy if you are in the high risk category. This offers better protection that subcutaneous mastectomy.
In subcutaneous mastectomy which is referred by younger women, the entire breast tissue is removed, but the nipples and the skin are left intact. This offers the possibility of using implants for retaining the fullness and shape of the breasts.
Who Benefits From Preventive Mastectomy?
Women who are in the high risk category include those with dense breast tissue, women who have abnormal genes like BRCA1, BRCA2, family history of breast cancer and women who have had breast cancer in one breast before.
National cancer institute suggests that preventive mastectomy, if possible is a great way to lessen your chances of breast cancer by about 90 percent. Most of the breast tissue that can turn cancerous is removed in this procedure and most women undergo a breast reconstruction surgery along with the preventive mastectomy to improve the quality of their life.
As with any surgical procedure, there is risk of infection, scarring and bleeding at the site of incision. Implants too can create problems like bursting, rejection, development of scar tissue etc. Women might lose their nipple sensation due to nerve damage and might experience pain in the arms and chest as well after surgery.