Skip to comments.I'm having my healthy breasts removed at 22 [not stupid or sick article]
Posted on 07/01/2004 6:28:06 PM PDT by Slings and Arrows
A young woman whose mother had her healthy breasts removed after it was found that she carried hereditary cancer genes is to undergo the same operation.
Becky Measures, 22, said she will have a double mastectomy after tests showed that she had a 90 per cent chance of contracting the disease in later life.
Her mother, Wendy Watson, became one of the first women in Britain to have a double mastectomy on healthy breasts.
The decision by Miss Measures, who works as a DJ on Peak 107 FM in Chesterfield, Derbys, is thought to be the first case of a daughter undergoing the same operation as her mother.
She said: "My mother had a double mastectomy 11 years ago although she hadn't got breast cancer and genetic tests at that time were in their infancy.
"It has been a major part of family life since I was very young. My grandmother and great grandmother died from breast cancer. At 22 it was a hard decision to make but I have grown up with it and I have just got to get on with it. My chances of catching breast cancer are minimal at the moment but as time goes on it would get more worrying.
"Before it gets to that stage it is better to get it out of the way. My boyfriend, family and friends are very supportive and it helps that my mum went through with the operation at 38."
She added: "Other family members have contracted breast cancer in their 30s and 40s so I have this large support network and the doctors have been fantastic. The surgeons carry out wonderful breast reconstruction jobs at the same time as the operation and their work is unbelievable.
"I have a lot to live for. This is my way of giving myself a future. A lot of women do not have the opportunity. I see it as a privilege."
Mrs Watson, 49, from Bakewell, Derbys, said: "When I had my double mastectomy it wasn't even recognised that breast cancer could be hereditary.
"When I discovered that nine family members had suffered breast cancer I went to my GP and asked what could be done.
"I had this awful feeling I was waiting to get breast cancer and hoping I had caught it in time."
After her operation, Mrs Watson set up the Genesis Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline for women.
She has recently sat on a panel for the National Institute for Clinical Excellence developing guidelines for women at high risk of breast cancer.
A hell of a lot nicer than you know-it-alls are being to the involved parties in this decision.
I am lost as to why you made such a statement to me. I don't think I have posted anything on this thread that in anyway would offend you or have I posted to you. If you prefer to email me a response, that would be fine.
You can live without your colon (not perhaps nicely, but you can). A family history of colon cancer does not raise your own chances of getting colon cancer that much, as my gastroenterologist told me when I had a colonoscopy four years ago (several in my family have had colon cancer). It's a factor, but not the only one -- it's just as important, if not more so, to pay attention to diet and early warning signs such as rectal bleeding.
It's a very different story with breast cancer when female members of multiple generations have had it; the chances of developing it yourself in that case are MUCH higher.
Further, colon cancer, unlike pre-menopausal breast cancer, can be treated much more easily if caught early and has a much higher cure rate. In younger women, breast cancer is very aggressive. Even if she keeps her breasts, she will have to watch them like a hawk with mammograms, blood tests, etc., which may or may not catch it in time. It would be an enormous worry.
Were I in her shoes, I would probably still opt for the close watching approach, but I don't blame her in the least with the odds she's facing.
This type of cancer is particularly aggressive. Even if the tumors are found and treated, the survival rate is much lower and death much sooner than with other breast cancers.
Your sarcastic joke offended me.
Efficacy of Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomy
in Women With a Family History of Breast Cancer
Surgeons are moving away from removing all of the breast tissue as a treatment option for breast cancer patients, but the trend to radical mastectomies is developing in a different arena. Women who are at high risk because of genetic factors are opting for prophylactic bilateral mastectomies to reduce the odds of developing cancer.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported on the first published study to look at this phenomenon. The results are impressive. The Mayo Clinic performed prophylactic bilateral mastectomies on 639 women from 1960 to 1993. The study looked at data on these women and used their sisters, who had not had the procedure, as a control group.
Between 30 and 52.9 cancers should have develped in the study participants. The expected incidence of cancer was determined by using the Gail model and the actual data obtained from the control group. Only three women had actually developed cancer by the conclusion of the study.
Prophylactic bilateral mastectomy reduced the risk of breast cancer by 90% to 94% according to the results of the analysis.
Although the authors found that the procedure significantly reduced the incidence of breast cancer for women at high risk, they had several reservations about recommending the surgery. They stated that, "risk reduction must be weighed against the operation's effect on body image and sexuality, considering that the procedure is irreversible and some high-risk women would never have developed breast cancer."
Source: N Engl J Med 340(2):77-84, January 1999
Authors: Hartmann LC, Schaid DJ, Woods JE, et al.
It wasn't a joke, it was an analogy. I was serious. This woman is nuts. You can read my other posts on this subject to see where I'm coming from.
Mutilation. Everyone in the medical community remotely connected with this should face a licensing hearing.
I couldn't be more disgusted.
Is it junk science really?
My Grandmother, Mother and both her sisters all had breast cancer.... every woman over 40 in my family. I think it is only a matter of time for me. Why not remove them before taking the chance on cancer getting a foothold? I've thought about it. I could have really fabulous fake ones put in ;~D
I hardly think breasts are as vital as legs.
It is more important that she be alive to raise her children than to die.
Society of Surgical Oncology:
Position Statement on Prophylactic Mastectomy
The SSO developed a position statement on prophylactic mastectomy in 1993 to guide insurance programs in determining coverage and help patients obtain reimbursement. The original statement was co-authored by Drs. Kirby I. Bland, Edward M. Copeland, and David P. Winchester and approved by the SSO Standards of Care Committee. The following position statement is an update of the previous 1993 statement by Drs. Douglas Reintgen, Armando Giuliano, and V. Suzanne Klimberg. It was approved by the SSO Executive Council in March, 2001.
INDICATIONS FOR BILATERAL PROPHYLACTIC MASTECTOMIES
(In Patients with a No-Cancer Diagnosis)
A patient without clinically or radiologically suspicious breast lesions or masses may have received recommendations for bilateral prophylactic mastectomies; only rarely is this radical extirpative approach indicated. An individual with nonproliferative disease of the breast (fibrocystic disease) should not be considered a candidate for mastectomy if a qualified pathologist has reviewed the tissue biopsies and confirmed the diagnosis.
Indications for consideration of bilateral prophylactic mastectomies are evident in specific clinical scenarios; a qualified surgeon and a pathologist should review these presentations. Informed consent is essential to properly inform a patient of potential risks and benefits of the procedure.
Clinicopathologic presentations that portend risk of cancer with a specific indication for bilateral prophylactic mastectomies include the following:
Atypical hyperplasia of lobular or ductal origin confirmed on biopsy by a qualified pathologist. This diagnosis takes on added significance if atypical hyperplasia is present in multiple sites in a breast of the ipsilateral breast and/or if it is bilateral.
Family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative, (especially a mother or sister, ) who is premenopausal and has had bilateral breast cancer (family cancer syndrome) or a known mutation of BRACA 1 or BRCA2 breast cancer susceptibility genes.
Dense, fibronodular breasts that are mammographically or clinically difficult to evaluate in a patient with either (or both) of the above clinical presentations . The combination of atypical hyperplasia with a family history of breast cancer implies significant risk (8-l0x) in excess of that of index populations.
Ideally, the patient should initiate the discussion, and more than one surgical opinion is desirable when the decision regarding the need for prophylactic mastectomy is considered. The opinion of a qualified surgeon familiar with the natural history and therapy of breast disease (cancer) is advised. Prior to any surgery, the patient should be informed of the breast cancer risk reduction that can be achieved with tamoxifen alone (~50%). Patients undergoing prophylactic mastectomy for suspected hereditary disease should consider ovarian screening or prophylactic removal, as well as colon screening.
Besides, he said "he may get diabetes". Wonder what he would do if the doctor told him he had a 90 percent chance of dying if he did not cut off his gangrene leg? Based on his other post, I would presume he would commit suicide on the spot since he said that she should just go ahead and kill herself now and be done with it.
Die? She doesn't have cancer. This was a preventative 'amputation' of her breasts based on her family history when she doesn't even have cancer at age 22. This kind of paranoid thinking is insane.
"Clinicopathologic presentations that portend risk of cancer with a specific indication for bilateral prophylactic mastectomies include the following:
Family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative, (especially a mother or sister, ) who is premenopausal and has had bilateral breast cancer (family cancer syndrome) or a known mutation of BRACA 1 or BRCA2 breast cancer susceptibility genes."
Junk Science Alert!
She was obviously well briefed by her "Free Health Care" provider.
You act as if the decision is an easy one. I don't think you have a clue.
She had something very unimportant removed that had a 90% chance of threatening her life.
But maybe you could answer a question I had when I read the article. Is breast cancer a problem that develops only in breast tissue, and is it possible to remove enough tissue to ensure that the subject will never develop cancer as a result of removing the breasts?
Thanks in advance for any information you can pass along.
I read it. So what? It doesn't mention age does it? It doesn't mention a girl 22 years old does it? I think she's nuts to have it done at that age before having children.
Some study results. Note that they did not have the genetic markers available. It is expected that more dramatic results would have been obtained if they were sorted on genetic markers also.
Just perhaps having children when you carry such a high risk of cancer, and passing that on to her kids, isn't a good thing. It is a very big part of my thinking. My grandmother had breast cancer. My mom died of cancer at 58, her sister died before her. Her other sister had breast cancer but has so far survived. Her brother died of cancer as well. Bad gene pool perhaps?
Sometimes this orderly process goes wrong. New cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor.
Not all tumors are cancer. Tumors can be benign or malignant:
Seem the posts just before this one where studies show worth.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Early breast cancer usually does not cause pain. In fact, when breast cancer first develops, there may be no symptoms at all. But as the cancer grows, it can cause changes that women should watch for:
A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
A change in the size or shape of the breast.
A discharge from the nipple.
A change in the color or feel of the skin of the breast, areola, or nipple (dimpled, puckered, or scaly).
A woman should see her doctor if she notices any of these changes. Most often, they are not cancer, but only a doctor can tell for sure.
An abnormal area on a mammogram, a lump, or other changes in the breast can be caused by cancer or by other, less serious problems. To find out the cause of any of these signs or symptoms, a woman's doctor does a careful physical exam and asks about her personal and family medical history. In addition to checking general signs of health, the doctor may do one or more of the breast exams described below.
Palpation. The doctor can tell a lot about a lumpits size, its texture, and whether it moves easilyby palpation, carefully feeling the lump and the tissue around it. Benign lumps often feel different from cancerous ones.
Mammography. X-rays of the breast can give the doctor important information about a breast lump. If an area on the mammogram looks suspicious or is not clear, additional x-rays may be needed.
Ultrasonography. Using high-frequency sound waves, ultrasonography can often show whether a lump is solid or filled with fluid. This exam may be used along with mammography.
Based on these exams, the doctor may decide that no further tests are needed and no treatment is necessary. In such cases, the doctor may need to check the woman regularly to watch for any changes. Often, however, the doctor must remove fluid or tissue from the breast to make a diagnosis.
Aspiration or needle biopsy. The doctor uses a needle to remove fluid or a small amount of tissue from a breast lump. This procedure may show whether a lump is a fluid-filled cyst (not cancer) or a solid mass (which may or may not be cancer). Using special techniques, tissue can be removed with a needle from an area that is suspicious on a mammogram but cannot be felt.
If tissue is removed in a needle biopsy, it goes to a lab to be checked for cancer cells. Clear fluid removed from a cyst may not need to be checked by a lab.
Surgical biopsy. The surgeon cuts out part or all of a lump or suspicious area. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
When a woman needs a biopsy, these are some questions she may want to ask her doctor:
What type of biopsy will I have? Why?
How long will the biopsy or aspiration take? Will I be awake? Will it hurt?
How soon will I know the results?
If I do have cancer, who will talk with me about treatment? When?
When Cancer Is Found
When cancer is present, the pathologist can tell what kind of cancer it is (whether it began in a duct or a lobule) and whether it is invasive (has invaded nearby tissues in the breast).
Special laboratory tests of the tissue help the doctor learn more about the cancer. For example, hormone receptor tests (estrogen and progesterone receptor tests) can help predict whether the cancer is sensitive to hormones. Positive test results mean hormones help the cancer grow and the cancer is likely to respond to hormonal therapy. Other lab tests are sometimes done to help the doctor predict whether the cancer is likely to grow slowly or quickly.
If the diagnosis is cancer, the patient may want to ask these questions:
What kind of breast cancer do I have? It is invasive?
What did the hormone receptor test show? What other lab tests were done on the tumor tissue, and what did they show?
How will this information help the doctor decide what type of treatment or further tests to recommend?
The patient's doctor may refer her to doctors who specialize in treating cancer, or she may ask for a referral. Treatment generally begins within a few weeks after the diagnosis. There will be time for the woman to talk with the doctor about her treatment choices, to get a second opinion, and to prepare herself and her loved ones.
Information provided by the
National Institutes of Health
Article Created: 1999-06-02
Article Updated: 1999-10-29
Enough. There's no point in discussing this further since you don't read well or comprehend my point which is related to timing of this for a girl only 22.
Didn't know that. Thanks for enlightening me/us.
Thanks.... I am 36 from a pretty high risk gene pool.... I have looked into it ~just~ a little. ;~D
Right. Maybe we should screen the whole population and not allow those people with bad genes to breed. Maybe we could also line up all the woman at age 20 with family histories of breast cancer and then remove their breasts in an assembly line fashion. It would be more efficient and effective and lower their risks.
I don't know. But such tests must not have factored in unknowable but substantial chance of major breakthroughs in cancer treatment over the next 10-20 years. Age 22 is way too young to consider this.
I am not saying it is hers, but just perhaps, being alive to raise any children she might have seems more vital to her than her breasts were. They ain't legs or kidneys, after all.
Simply for the sake of discussion--let's say your genetic markers indicate you have 90% chance of developing penis cancer with the same mortality rate as breast cancer. What would you do?
You left out her genetic marker.
Breast cancer,even when caught early,can and often does escape,to be found later in other body parts.The survival rate,for breast cancer,isn't significantly better than it was 30 years ago.OTOH,many other cancers'survival rates have gone through the roof.And what many men don't know,is that they too can get breast cancer.
The radical mastectomy on noncancerous tissue,preemptive course has been around for a while now;however,not long enough to be proven efficacious...or not.And there are no stats on whether or not,after having this procedure done,the women escaped getting another form of cancer.
I hope this answers your questions.Do feel free to Freepmail me,if you want more info,or just to talk about this.
No. If they were too BIG, I know of a PROCEDURE that would help them. Or at least help me sleep better at night, Any ways, has anybody read Dr Lorraine Day?
Breast Cancer is common. I wouldn't go for the mastectomy just yet. The diagnosis of breast cancer today amounts to a year of surgery, radiation and chemo, followed by high quality of life, and most importantly, retention of the breasts. It's no longer a death sentence preceded by a life in dread while mutilated and deformed.
Apparently you have miss the studies posted above.
Medical experts beg otherwise.
Ok. What is the survival rate for this particularly aggressive cancer?
I agree that treatment has come along way, chances today are much better than they were fifteen years ago when my mom had it. And she survived that, but not the other cancers that followed. I would argue that with reconstruction being pretty good, She'll not feel mutilated or deformed.... she can now have a fabulous set put in. ;~D
Maybe you haven't seen breast reconstruction these days.
You want to talk about high risk? Check this out. The paternal line: My dad: malignant melanoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (he's doing OK-age 70). My aunt: breast cancer (she's doing fine). My uncle: non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (died, age 50-something). My grandfather: metastasized colon cancer (died-age 70). One of his brothers: Leukemia (died-age 60-something). One of his brothers' grandson's: bone cancer (died-age 30-something). My grandmother: breast cancer (survived--she now in a nursing home and her mind is gone-age 80). My grandmother's brother: "eat up" with some sort of cancer (died-age-late 70's). His son: liver cancer (died-age 50-something). My grandmother's sister: Lung cancer (died, age 70-something-oddly enough, she's the only one of this group who never smoked and wouldn't let her husband smoke in the house). Another of my grandmother's sisters: brain tumor (still living-in her late 80's). And that's just the ones I know about off the top of my head. On my mom's side it's all strokes and high blood pressure and type II diabetes, even though they live to a pretty good age (70's and upper 80's).
When it comes to genes I'm screwed up one side and down the other, so I may as well just live my life (and get yearly mammograms and physicals and wear sunscreen).
I don't fault this 22 year old for doing this, though. It's extreme, but she's the one who has to live without her breasts, hopefully until she's 90.
I don't mean to laugh at your family's history of cancer but "screwed up one side and down the other" the way you put it was funny. Again, I don't mean to be tacky but you made me laugh.
I can't beat that, but only because my family started out smaller. Lets just hope they keep making headway on this cancer thing.
And until then, lets not set you up to marry my brother... ;~D