Choosing Your Surgery
But the more tests they did, the more lesions they found. So although it was a difficult decision, I knew that I needed to have a double mastectomy.

Once diagnosed with breast cancer, you may be overwhelmed with uncertainty, many unknowns, and multiple decisions to be made regarding your treatment and surgical options.

I decided I don't want to go back through this again. I've already had been through this twice. So I decided to have both my breasts removed. I didn't feel unhappy about that. I felt like it was a necessity. -- Susan F.

Should you choose a lumpectomy (breast conserving surgery) with radiation or a mastectomy? If only one breast is affected, should you opt to have a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy on the other breast? How comfortable are you with the ongoing risk for developing breast cancer if you choose a lumpectomy? Will you choose to reconstruct?

Few breast cancers require immediate surgery. Generally, there is time to empower yourself with information. It is important to have a full understanding of your pathology report. Specifics regarding the stage of your cancer, tumor location, and hormone receptor status will all have an important role in determining the best way to proceed.

Once you have your surgical team in place, use their expertise to guide you. Interview previous patients about their experiences and results. Most importantly, you will need to assess your internal feelings and apprehensions regarding surgery, appearance, and minimizing risk.

"I had precancerous changes in the other breast, so I feel really fortunate that I made that decision."
"There was not cancer in the other breast. They did an MRI. I thought I don't want to go through this again."
"We had no time to have a bilateral mastectomy. He needed to have the tumor out of me very quickly."
"When the final pathology was done, there was a third malignant area that was completely unknown to anyone."
"I was advised that a lumpectomy would cure the cancer,and followed by radiation, everything would be fine."
"I always knew what I would do if it were me since I worked with breast cancer patients. It was an easy decision for me."
"I had my mastectomy and then I had radiation, so there was a delay of 10 or 11 months between my initial surgery and reconstruction. I'm BRCA positive, so I knew I would need to take the other one."
Choosing a Prophylactic Mastectomy
Finding out you have a BRCA gene mutation is a gift. As bad as it is, it is a gift because it's knowledge. You can change the possibilities of what could happen. -- Sandi S.
I think the turning point is when you decide and you have no regrets and you move forward. I just needed to move on. What I've done is so that I can be here for my family.

Choosing a prophylactic, preventative mastectomy is a very personal choice, a choice that has been on the rise in the U.S. over the last decade. Why would a woman choose to remove her healthy, cancer-free breasts? For many women the choice is based on a strong family history of breast cancer or as a result of testing positive for the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genetic mutations, the mutations which are associated with an increased risk for developing breast cancer. For these women at high risk, routine breast screenings become an exercise in managing anxiety and fear. Will this mammogram be THE mammogram, the time that they finally find cancer?

A prophylactic mastectomy can decrease a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime by as much as 90%. This fact, coupled with greatly improved, aesthetically beautiful reconstruction, makes the choice a very viable option, an option that improves their quality of life. For these women, a prophylactic mastectomy is an opportunity to take control of their breast cancer future, thereby drastically reducing the anxiety and stress of being high risk.

"It was going to save my life. It's a personal choice."
"It was not from a position of fear. It was from a position of strength."
"The turning point is when you decide and you have no regret."
"I was scared to find out and I was scared not to know."
"That was the ultimate goal was to prevent heartache for them."
"I feel blessed that I asked for the test and as much as I hated the results I was able to make those changes."
"You should be able to encourage more women to take that step to get that gene test."
"The baggage that I carried around with her illness and her death was going to prompt me to do something very scary that a lot of people wouldn't consider."