Breast Cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in women. According to the World Health Organization, over one million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide this year alone.
For women who are at high-risk for breast cancer — especially those whose mother or sisters have breast cancer — just knowing their high-risk status can create a life filled with anxiety, worry and a feeling of helplessness. It used to be that the only option they had to minimize their chances of getting the disease was to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy — which is a radical elective mastectomy to remove the breasts — a drastic step that many were understandably hesitant to take.
There is now another option for woman at high risk.
A recent study that observed thousands of women in the United States, Canada, Denmark and Sweden has proven that Breast Reductions significantly lower the risk of a high-risk woman developing breast cancer. The study determined that Breast Reductions lowered their risk by 50 to 70%.
This is both exciting and promising. To give high-risk women an option, to help them take proactive measures for their own health, is rewarding both to the patients as well as to the surgeons.
How does Breast Reduction Minimize Breast Cancer Risks?
The study concluded that the more breast tissue a high-risk woman had, the more breast cells they had that could become cancerous. In other words: if the tissue was removed it would never be able to become cancerous.
If Breast Reduction is good, wouldn't prophylactic mastectomy be better?
Because prophylactic mastectomies can reduce a high-risk woman's chance of acquiring breast cancer by 90%, they cannot provide a 100% guarantee against developing cancer. For many women, taking a step to have her breasts completely removed yet still retain the chance of developing cancer was not a good enough trade off.
Breast Reductions can drastically lower the chance of cancer and still allow a woman to keep her breasts. For many women this is very important.
Large Breasted and at High Risk?
For those women who are at high risk and large breasted already — enough that they have been considering Breast Reduction surgery in the past — this news should be doubly encouraging.
Breast Reductions Offer an Added Measure of Safety.
In addition to the new findings, one other benefit that has always been associated with Breast Reductions should also be pointed out. All tissue removed during Breast Reduction surgery (regardless of the woman's "at risk" status) is biopsied. This is standard operating procedure. It can be very comforting for a woman to understand that if there were any cancerous cells — regardless of whether or not she is at risk — they would be found in post-op analysis.
Dr. Grant Stevens and the entire Marina Plastic Surgery staff are very excited to provide this information to our patients. Giving a woman at high risk of developing breast cancer a proven and positive action she can take towards promoting her own health is an important and considerable empowerment.