By now you’ve heard about Angelina Jolie’s brave decision, informed by family history and genetic testing, to take what some would call drastic measures to protect herself from breast cancer. She has undergone bilateral mastectomies and reconstruction with breast implants. She has done this under the world-media microscope, and has largely been applauded for her efforts and honesty.
By going public, Jolie has brought widespread attention to an issue that does have controversial elements. For women who test positive for the BRCA1 gene and have a maternal history of breast or ovarian cancer, pre-emptive surgery is a wise choice. However, many women who have had cancer in one breast are choosing prophylactic mastectomy of both breasts, when studies show this extreme treatment is not always needed. Often, lumpectomy—removal of a lump of cancerous breast tissue—with radiation and/or chemotherapy provides the cure, without the need for further deforming surgery. Not all breast cancers are aggressive enough to warrant prophylactic mastectomy of the normal breast, especially when the patient tests negative for the BRCA1 gene.
The concern is that many women will be clamoring for the same procedure that Jolie had, because she presumably had the best treatment. My advice is listen to your doctor, and make a rational decision with the aid of family and friends, with full awareness of all the facts.
Robert M. Tornambe, M.D. has lectured in the United States and Europe and is considered an expert in cosmetic facial and breast surgery.
Contact Dr. Tornambe's New York office for a free personal consultation and to determine the procedures and alternatives that will best meet your beauty goals. Call 855-TRU-YOU2 or click here to get in touch.