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Would you undergo a mastectomy if you knew you were in the risk group?

All of a sudden, in this past couple of weeks, this term mastectomy has sprung up on the internet.

Why? Because a celebrity under went a double mastectomy, when she found out she carried the faulty gene, that predisposed her to breast and ovarian cancer. By undergoing the knife, she dropped her risk from 80 over percent to a mere 5%. Courageous yes, but then again, she did have implants done at the same time, so there’s no real physical handicap – if anything, it’s really the mental scarring.

breastcareNow a days, surgery is so advanced – mastectomy techniques can preserve breast skin and allow for a more natural breast appearance following the procedure. Surgery to restore shape to your breast, called breast reconstruction, may be done at the same time as your mastectomy or during a second operation at a later date.

Well, going for a mastectomy is a rather drastic step, to have both breast removed completely. There are ladies in the risk group who opt to just keep a close eye and do frequent monitoring (breast checks) rather than have them removed all together. Preventive (prophylactic) or risk-reducing mastectomy involves removing both of your breasts and significantly reduces your risk of developing breast cancer in the future. Prophylactic mastectomy is reserved for women with a very high risk of breast cancer, which is determined by a strong family history of breast cancer or the presence of certain genetic mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer, as in the case of Angelina Jolie.

A JolieWell mastectomy aside, breast care should always be a top priority for women. Detecting breast cancer in the earliest and most curable state could save your life. There are three methods of early detection that all women should practice: monthly breast self-exams, annual clinical breast examinations by a health care professional and regular mammograms.

Breast Self-Exam (BSE)

All women 20 years of age and older should perform a BSE each month, two to three days after your period or on the same date each month if you no longer have periods. Monthly BSE helps you learn the way your breasts normally look and feel and allows you to notice changes. The following changes should be reported to your doctor:

new lump in or near the breast or under the arm
thickening or swelling of part of the breast
irritation or dimpling of breast skin
redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast
pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
nipple discharge other than breast milk that occurs without squeezing
any change in the size or the shape of the breast
pain in any area of the breast

Clinical Breast Exam (CBE)

A CBE should be a part of every yearly health exam for women 20 years of age and older. During the CBE, your doctor or nurse will carefully feel your breasts and under your arms checking for lumps and other changes.


Mammograms are the best available method to detect breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage. However, mammograms are not perfect and can miss some cancers. A woman should not ignore something she feels because her mammogram is normal. Changes can be especially difficult to spot in dense, glandular breast of a younger woman. This is why women of all ages should have a clinical breast exam done by the doctor every year.


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