Do you have to remove breasts to prevent breast cancer?

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By Jimmy Downs

Sunday Nov 18, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- It is sad to read news reports saying that Miss America Contestant Allyn Rose, 24, has decided to undergo preventative double mastectomy, or to surgically remove both breasts to prevent developing breast cancer.

Allyn's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27 and died from the disease when Allyn was 16 years old, according to news reports.  After diagnosis, she refused to have another breast removed to prevent future breast cancer.  It seems she died after the disease in Stage III occurred in another breast.

Women who have family history of breast cancer are at high risk for breast cancer because of some faulty genetics.  Early diagnosis of the disease means the disease is aggressive or invasive or the patients can't effectively defend against the disease, and such a disease poses a life-threatening risk.

A study recently released in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment has found women whose mothers were diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50 were about 69 percent more likely to develop breast cancer, compared to those without family history of the disease.

Similarly, women who had sisters diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50 were at 66 percent increased risk of the disease, compared to those who had no family history of the disease.

Women whose mothers or sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer after age 50 had slightly lower risk of breast cancer, compared to those whose mothers or sisters were diagnosed with the disease after age 50, but still had higher risk than those who had no family history of the disease.

The increase in the risk for breast cancer was not modified significantly by known reproductive and lifestyle risk factors with exception that those who had bilaterial oophorectomy had the risk greatly reduced.

The study was based on data from 4,327 incident invasive cases of breast cancer identified from participants in the Nurses' Health Study.

Although many breast cancer patients entrust their lives in the hands of their doctors, it is saddening to know that medical companies, advocate organizations, and hospitals have no interest in finding out why still some percentage of women at high risk for breast cancer won't develop breast cancer.  But it is understandable.  If we know what can successfully prevent the disease, then the same preventative measure can prevent hospitals from cashing in on the disease. (JD)

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