Here we go again…
Research has shown yet again that, according to at least some measures, double mastectomies do not improve the quality of life of most women.
Yet, women continue to get them. Why?
Actually, according to our interactions with our readers on Facebook, a lot of you have had them. Double mastectomies are a part of your story. They’re your choices.
So… what drives this choice? What drove your choice, no matter what you chose?
Interestingly, according to this latest study at the Duke Cancer Institute, our readers might be a part of the exception, where the double mastectomy actually does make sense. They found when looking at the overall satisfaction and anxiety levels, “the double-mastectomy group had only a slight edge — primarily among women who had undergone breast reconstruction.”
Why Not to Get a Double Mastectomy
Plain and simple, we know that if you’re low risk, a double mastectomy is not likely to extend the length of your life. It may, in fact, cause all sorts of other health complications, because cutting off a body part isn’t really easy on the body.
Importantly, this study showed us it’s also not likely to make you less anxious about the risk of the cancer returning, because you’re never going to forget for one second that even with a mastectomy, the cancer can come back. Either way, you’ll have to face that fear.
The message we seem to be hearing more and more from researcher after researcher is: Don’t make your decision out of fear.
Breast Symmetry and Reconstruction
But there’s another possible reason why you might consider breast reconstruction: breast symmetry.
This is totally personal. To put it simply, if you choose this option, you choose a mastectomy of the healthy breast, along with the diseased breast, in order to make it more likely that the plastic surgeon will be able to get both breasts to match.
That’s an entirely different reason. It’s not medically necessary. In fact, it adds to the overall medical intensiveness of the procedures. But… reading between the lines of the research, it does make some women happy.
Making the Choice
Ultimately, it’s totally up to you (in consultation with your medical team). One choice isn’t better than another, but the reasons that drive the choice will ultimately matter.
Choose the choice that will make you happy—not the choice driven by fear.
If you love the sensation of your breast, keep that one healthy that you’ve still got. Perhaps you and your romantic partner will enjoy that best.
If you cannot stand the thought of two rather different-looking breasts, talk to your plastic surgeon about what it would take to achieve breast symmetry. Have that conversation, but, remember, this is not a choice that should be made out of fear. It’s about feeling your best in the body you’ve got.