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Angelina Jolie can go for a mastectomy, but can you? Read on to know

Published on:11 October 2021, 15:33pm IST
Breast cancer is widely prevalent and mastectomy can be considered as a preventive procedure. But, does it really bring down the risk of breast cancer?
Grace Bains
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breast removal
Mastectomy for breast cancer can ensure timely prevention and treatment. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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A couple of years back, Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy in order to prevent breast cancer. Her own experience with this preventive surgery helped raise awareness of the menace of breast cancer, and how mastectomy can help restrain its spread.

Millions of women are struggling with breast cancer, and as per WHO, it is the world’s most prevalent cancer. There are various factors associated with breast cancer, which forms in the cells of the breasts. It could develop in the lining cells of the ducts or lobules, and in the glandular tissue of the breast. With due consultation and preventive procedures, women can mitigate the risks, and supplement their recovery.

breast cancer treatment
Mastectomy is often performed to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
What is a mastectomy?

Mastectomy is a preventive surgery to remove all breast tissue from a breast. There are two types of mastectomy:

i) Bilateral prophylactic mastectomy: This involves complete removal of both breasts, including the nipples. In some cases, nipples are left intact, while removing as much breast tissue as possible.

ii) Subcutaneous mastectomies: This procedure preserves the nipple and helps retain the natural look of the breasts.

breast cancer
If your genetic screening tests shows an abnormal result, you can opt for mastectomy. Image caption: Shutterstock
Who should consider getting a mastectomy done?

Certain factors increase the risk profile of women developing breast cancer, which includes history of radiation exposure, genetic disposition, family history, reproductive history, age, and tobacco consumption. Genetic mutation in the BRCA1 or the BRCA2 gene in particular, is a major risk factor for developing breast cancer.

Hence, in order to identify whether a mastectomy should be done, it is prudent to consult with a doctor, especially in case of a strong family history of breast cancer. Reaching out to a doctor is also advisable on noticing symptoms such as a lump in the breast, change in breast size, pain in the breast of nipples, change in colour or shape of the breast and nipples, and peeling or flaking of the area surrounding the nipple (areola).

Effectiveness of mastectomy?

As per a research article by the US-based National Cancer Institute, bilateral prophylactic mastectomy is associated with a 95 per cent reduction in risk of breast cancer for women with a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA1 gene. NCI’s research article further adds that there is a 90 percent reduction in risk of breast cancer for women who have a family history of breast cancer.

So, ladies, be mindful of the risks of breast cancer and reach out to a doctor to know more about the mastectomy procedure.

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.