Having a mastectomy can be a difficult decision for many women and having the procedure as a prophylactic measure might be more challenging. There are three reasons a mastectomy might be the best decision.

Strong Family History

Some women make their decision to have a mastectomy based on a strong family history of breast cancer and related cancers. If family history would make a difference in your decision, you should look on both sides of your family and take into consideration certain male cancers. Certain cancers you may not think about include reproductive cancers in both men and women in your family. Some families with a strong family history of breast cancer may also see generations of ovarian and prostate cancers or even people who died unusually young, but for unknown reasons.

Genetic Mutations

If genetic mutations would not change whether you would have a prophylactic mastectomy, you might decide against having any genetic testing. Genetic testing for certain mutations, such as BRCA, can give you an indication that you may be at a higher risk for developing certain cancers, independent of your family history. Sometimes cancers that may occur in the future in people with mutations may be more aggressive and harder to treat, which is the reason some women decide it is best to have the mastectomy. The major benefit of the mastectomy is that your risk of breast cancer can go from elevated to almost zero. If all breast tissue is removed and does not grow back, there is no possibility of ever having breast cancer, but there is still a risk of other BRCA-related cancers.

Cancer Type

A prophylactic mastectomy can also be used in women who have already developed breast caner. When cancer is caught in the early stage or the lesion is small, a mastectomy may not be recommended as part of treatment. Depending on the type of cancer, you may decide although a mastectomy is not necessary, it would give you peace of mind. Some cancers that are especially aggressive, such as triple-negative and inflammatory breast cancers, might be types of breast cancer where a mastectomy might give you a better chance of survival. Some women might prefer a mastectomy with any type of breast cancer to reduce their risk of recurrence.

Scheduling a mastectomy that is not necessary to treat a current cancer can be a difficult, but essential decision for some women. If you have an elevated risk of developing breast cancer or a higher risk of recurrence, a mastectomy is worth considering. For more information, contact breast cancer treatment services in your area.