Skip to comments.The DNA Age: Cancer Free at 33, but Weighing a Mastectomy
Posted on 09/20/2007 10:34:02 AM PDT by qam1
Her latest mammogram was clean. But Deborah Lindner, 33, was tired of constantly looking for the lump.
Ever since a DNA test had revealed her unusually high chance of developing breast cancer, Ms. Lindner had agonized over whether to have a mastectomy, a procedure that would reduce her risk by 90 percent.
She had stared at herself in the mirror, imagining the loss of her familiar shape. She had wondered, unable to ask, how the man she had just started dating would feel about breasts that were surgically reconstructed, incapable of feeling his touch or nursing his children.
But she was sure that her own mother, who had had chemotherapy and a mastectomy after a bout with the cancer that had ravaged generations of her family, would agree it was necessary.
It could be growing inside of me right now, she told her mother on the phone in February, pacing in her living room here. We could find it any time.
Waiting for an endorsement, she added, I could schedule the surgery before the summer.
But no approval came.
Oh, sweetheart, her mother said. Lets not rush into this.
Joan Lindner, 63, is a cancer survivor. Her daughter, by contrast, is one of a growing number of young women who call themselves previvors because they have learned early that they are genetically prone to breast cancer, and have the chance to act before it strikes.
As they seek to avoid the potentially lethal consequences of a mutant gene, many of them turn to relatives who share its burden. But at a moment when a genetic test has made family ties even more tangible, they are often at their most strained.........
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
>>YOu can if you can afford to pay $2400.
That’s better than not being able to be insured in the future.
I watched my mother die a horific death at the age of 56 from breast cancer.
Yes, life is a one way ride to the grave but cancer is a bad way to go.
People get their colons remove because of either familial polyposis or ulcerative colitis to stave off the eventual development of colon cancer. Undescended testical are removed routinely because of the very high risk of testicular cancer. This is no different.
She is making a decission based on risk versus benefit. Sounds rational to me, I’m amazed at the response to this article.
She is considering a condition that may lead to a prolonged, painful death versus some cosmetic issues and the chance to see grandchildren get married.
Uhhh, probability is measured as a percentage.
Some of these reactions are common for those who have not educated themselves on this topic. Some of these reactions are callous and show the character of the poster, ignorance being no excuse.
For those that prefer to educate themselves instead of make fun of other people in difficult situations:
The cancer that this gene causes is typically malignant, typically grade three and the women die of either bone or brain cancer. Who would not do something to prevent that from happening if they were given the option? Choose one:
(1) Waiting for a cancer that is more likely than not going to happen, then undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and still end up dying a painful awful death and not living to see their children grow up, their grandchildren be born, not living anymore at all, you know, die?
(2) Have a surgery that would more likely than not prevent all of the above even if it means giving up what appears to be a ‘perfectly healthy’ body part.
Appearances can be deceiving. It is the breast tissue that is the danger. It is a fast duplicating tissue and with each replication, there are some errors. BRCA1 helps correct those errors. We all have those errors, but our BRCA1 gene fixes them for us. These women have one faulty BRCA1 gene and one working BRCA1 gene that keeps them going. But as time goes on, that gene goes bad too. Then the error in replication is not corrected and a tumor starts growing and it starts growing FAST. Then, for anyone that knows, breast cancer is never really cured, it is only ever kept at bay. Then, it is a matter of living with cancer every day until eventually it catches up with you and you die that painful awful death anyway.
What if you could have prevented the cancer in the first place? You would have. You would have given your right arm, you would have given almost anything.
Think of how it would feel to live, knowing that someone out there wanted to kill you and would if ever given the chance. You never knew when, your never knew where. Imagine the relief that you would feel if you read in the paper one day that that person had recently died. That’s the relief that these women get. It’s a difficult personal choice and I question the true heart of the posters that have had their fun questioning the sanity of the woman in this article and hope that a bit of information has been the remedy.
Do you care to expand on that response.
I’d say there is a 50% probability, you responded without thinking, a 25% probability that you are just being pissy, a 10% probability that you just don’t know, and a 5% probability that we are talking about different things.
What are the odds of that.
Nice straw man!
I don't make light of anybody's concern over cancer and find your comment disgusting.
Not trying to be callous, but removing body parts just because they might develop cancer is insane.
Sure, but I think it is easier to live with some uncertain something which you don't know if you can prevent at all, and KNOWING that it is a near certainty that you will get breast cancer and could possibly avoid it.
My wife had this operation about 19 months ago at age 45 after testing positive for the BrCa1 gene. Her mother, grandmother and maternal aunt all died early of breast cancer. One of her cousins is currently in treatment for cancer.
I too was highly skeptical of the surgery initially, but it is supported by a significant amount of research.
Even before the test she was increasingly worried that she would follow in her mother’s path. This surgery gave her a chance to actively fight the disease. It was not a decision she took lightly. It was very painful, but things are pretty much back to normal now.
Of my wife’s 3 sisters, one other had the gene and also had the surgery. I have 4 daughters who have a 50% chance of having the gene. They will probably be tested in their early 20s and possibly consider surgery after they are done having children Hopefully by that time there will be better treatment options.
This broad more than likely has a chromosome 21 defect or worse.
“Theres no testicular cancer in my family.”
A percentage is a fraction or a ration with 100 understood as the demoninator.
Probability is a number expressing the likelihood that a specific event will occur, expressed as the ration of the number of the actual occurrences to the number of possible occurrences.
“Im quite disappointed in the responses here. Im a 14 year breast cancer survivor but many women I know are not so lucky. It is a horribly painful death and slow. The cancer can move to the lungs, bones etc. If this woman could stop the risk of breast cancer by doing this then more power to her. If the boyfriend couldnt take it then hes not worth having around.”
And I absolutely agree with you. I can’t believe the people on this thread questioning a woman’s decision to possibly avoid breast cancer. We’re not talking about aborting a child or taking out an organ essential to life. Disgusting.
My best to your and your family. I know it was a difficult decision or your wife and family, a very personal one. We all hope for more choices, more options in the future.
Until we know for sure, it is advisable to keep your daughters from any unnecessary X-rays. It is possible (research and new guidelines reflect this new thinking, but do not go so far as to state WHY the recommendation) that X-rays (including Mammograms) can effect the breast tissue of BRCA1 carriers in such a way as to instigate the growth of a tumor. What is happening is that women with BRCA1 mutations go for their annual mammogram and then find themselves with a fast-growing tumor six months later. Some in the medical field (American Cancer Society for one) made the conclusion and recommendation that BRCA1 carriers should have should have both an MRI and a mammogram every year. Others have suggested that they get more than one mammogram a year.
That’s careless thinking, taking one thing as the golden standard (the mammogram) and stating that this needs to remain in place without considering it might be the cause. And pointless, in my opinion, if both the mammogram and MRI are performed at the same time.
The thinking is that the MRI can catch cancers that the Mammogram would have missed and likewise the other way around, but what really needs to be considered more closely is cause and effect (some researchers are).
Detection is necessary if a cancer is there, but not “key” as many people say, prevention is. If your wife has been recommended to get yearly Mammograms still (believe it or not, I have read that these are still recommended for those with prophylactic mastectomies) please research and come to your own conclusions on mammograms or not, MRI’s etc. Certainly BSE’s are recommended still and those should be more than once a month.
Quoting headlines written by journalists that lead with a conclusion that doesn’t REALLY represent the scope and implications of medical research is as flawed a way to keep up on medical news as any news. (That comment is not for you personally, but for those in this discussion that appear to have gotten their medical information on this topic that way.)
Here’s to the future and better options and a fine long life for you and each member of your family.
Walking away scratching head.
If she were instead a "he" facing a lifetime risk of 85-90% of prostate or testicular cancer, you would see a mighty different response to this article here on FR.
There are at least 4 key things that have to take place before you trigger cancer. Is she at 1 or 2 or 3????
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