If One Breast Has Cancer, Should You Have Your Other Breast Removed Prophylactically?

February 8th, 2017

breast reconstruction northern virginiaMy consultations with Northern Virginia and Fairfax breast reconstruction patients cover a variety of topics. We’ll discuss their options for surgery, how procedures will work in coordination with their cancer treatments, and what type of outcome patients can expect, among other topics.

Some Northern Virginia and Fairfax breast reconstruction patients who are having a mastectomy question whether they should also remove the healthy breast as a preventative measure. Here’s what you should know: removing your other breast prophylactically will not necessarily change your chances of survival, but it can still benefit you. While a prophylactic mastectomy in patients who are being treated for breast cancer hasn’t been statistically shown to prolong life, it does drastically decrease the chance of developing breast cancer in the opposite breast.  That means it will drastically decrease your chances of having to go through breast surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation again.

The Risk of Cancer

You have a certain level of risk with breast cancer. If you survive breast cancer on one side and then develop breast cancer on the other side, research strongly suggests that you will not succumb to that cancer either.

For this reason, having a prophylactic mastectomy on the other side does not decrease your risk of losing your life to breast cancer. It’s not likely to prolong your life or to diminish your chances of succumbing to cancer. The level of risk you face is independent from the number of breast cancers with which you may be diagnosed.

My Northern Virginia / Fairfax breast reconstruction patients often have a lot of questions about this. I welcome these inquiries and can coordinate a broader discussion and decision-making with their breast cancer doctor.

The Reason for Prophylactic Mastectomy

While prophylactic mastectomy doesn’t diminish your risk of someday dying from breast cancer, it does diminish your risk of having a breast cancer occur on the opposite side. This offers breast reconstruction patients a number of benefits:

  • You will not require mammograms or biopsies on this other side.
  • You will reduce your chance of ever having breast cancer on this opposite side by about 95%. As a result, you are highly unlikely to require treatment on that side for breast cancer.

These are no small considerations. After going through the challenges that cancer presents, removing the other breast prophylactically can completely change the way you care for yourself and prevent future challenges with the other breast.

If you want to know more about the prophylactic mastectomy, the first person to talk to is actually your breast surgeon. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Jespersen in the Fairfax area today. Breast reconstruction patients can reach our office at (703) 992-7969 or by completing our contact form.

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