Women at high risk for breast cancer, wish to overcome the fear of any future possibility of the disease and in the process opt for preventive mastectomy or bilateral prophylactic mastectomy. It involves a breast surgery, where both breasts are removed surgically. Surgery also aims to remove all tissues, ducts or lobes of breast that can be the potential cause for breast cancer development.
Mastectomy procedure involves removal of tissues, residing beneath the breast skin to area of chest including chest wall and chest borders. But, this is very difficult and almost impossible task to remove every single lobule and milk duct from beneath the skin as these tissues and glands are very extensively distributed.
Preventive Mastectomy Reduces Breast Cancer Risks
Preventive mastectomy reduces the breast cancer risk significantly and it can be decreased up to 100% in women with strong family history of BRCA mutation or breast cancer. Though, risk reduction does vary from women to women. Certain women may also prefer this option without any high risk and owing to factors like dense breast tissues, pain, cancer phobia and fibrocystic breast disease.
In majority of cases, the breast cancer does not develop after prophylactic mastectomy, but in around 10 % of cases, breast cancer is still observed, even after complete removal of breast and breast tissues.
Preventive Mastectomy – Necessary For High Risks Women
Those women are at high risks for development of breast cancer that have past history of cancer in one of the breasts, mutated BRCA genes, history of lobular carcinoma in situ, atypical lobular hyperplasia or strong family history of breast cancer. In atypical lobular hyperplasia, irregular cells get formed and line the milk lobes.
In situ lobular carcinoma is a non invasive form of breast cancer. Women should opt for preventive mastectomy only after proper psychological and genetic counseling, to analyze the psychosocial effects of the procedure on lives of the women.
Important Risks Involved With Preventive Mastectomy
Increased Infection Risk And High Sensitivity At The Surgical Areas
After surgery, women are prone to infections, but by knowing the proper warning signs of infection, women can easily get recovered soon from it with proper treatment.
These surgical areas become touch sensitive due to irritation at the nerve endings. The sensitivity gets improved with time as nerves start growing back.
Slow Wound Healing
Blood vessels that are there to supply blood to tissues of breast get incised during mastectomy and can cause problems during healing of incised sites. In absence of adequate flow of blood to the incised flaps, the areas of skin start to wither and may need to be trimmed surgically. This happens occasionally and is not a severe complication.
Numbness And Tenderness
Skin area surrounding the incised site, exhibits low to moderate level of tenderness and numbness because of injured nerves appearing during surgery.
The numbness remains for short duration that gets fine with time and happens mostly in shoulder, chest, upper arms or/and underarms areas.
Formation Of Scar Tissue
Due to mastectomy or reconstruction post mastectomy , there appears a risk of scar formation that gets build up with time. The scar tissue formed may appear painful or lumpy, but there are ways to manage the discomfort caused by them.
There is a possibility of fluid accumulation beneath the formed scar due to hematoma (accumulation of blood within the wound) or seroma (clear fluid buildup in the wound). These may get resolved by itself or need to be drained out with a sterile needle by the doctor.
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