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Is Prophylactic Mastectomy Right for You?

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If you are at high risk of developing breast cancer, you might be exploring possible ways that you can reduce this risk. While prophylactic mastectomy can significantly reduce risk of developing breast cancer, this surgery is also a serious choice that can have a considerable impact on your life.

There are many factors to consider when deciding on a risk-reduction strategy, so take the time you need to talk to your doctor and family members about the different ways you can lower your risk.

You may be considering risk-reducing measures such as prophylactic mastectomy if:

  • You have a strong family history of breast cancer: More than one relative — including your mother, sister, or daughter — has had breast cancer, especially before age 50.
  • You’ve tested positive for a BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, CDH1, PTEN, or TP53 gene mutation, which increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • You have a personal history of breast cancer, making you more likely to develop a new cancer in the opposite breast than someone who has never had breast cancer.
  • You have been diagnosed with lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), which has been shown to increase the risk of developing invasive breast cancer.
  • You have had radiation therapy to the chest before age 30, which increases the risk of breast cancer throughout your life.
  • You have widely spread breast microcalcifications (tiny deposits of calcium in the breast tissue). If your doctor finds a cluster of microcalcifications in your breast, it can sometimes mean that breast cancer is present. If a person has to undergo multiple biopsies because of many microcalcifications, the scar tissue that is created can complicate mammography and physical examination. While rare, some women with repeated incidences of microcalcification clusters decide to undergo prophylactic mastectomy.

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