By: James Romanelli
Publicity surrounding Angelina Jolie’s announcement of her decision to have a double mastectomy — even though she wasn’t diagnosed with cancer — is part of a larger trend showing an increase in the number of preventive mastectomies and breast reconstruction procedures.
At our Long Island practice, we’ve already noted a rise in recent years in the number of patients electing to have breast reconstruction surgery after undergoing prophylactic mastectomy on either one or both breasts. (Women who are diagnosed with cancer in one breast sometimes choose to undergo double mastectomy as a precaution.)
Jolie made her choice after getting the results of a genetic test that showed her risk of breast cancer was statistically much greater than that of the general population. We expect the attention in the wake of Jolie’s New York Times article will spur a new wave of women to undergo preventive mastectomies, a procedure that has already seen a sharp upturn. A 2010 study published in Current Oncology Reports shows the number of prophylactic mastectomies doubled between 1998 and 2005.
Why? I think it’s logical to note that part of this increase can be attributed to surgical advances, including breast reconstruction procedures. At our practice, Dr. Khuthaila and I offer several reconstruction options, either using implants or the patient’s own tissue. In fact, Dr. Khuthaila specializes in an innovative microsurgical procedure called DIEP flap reconstruction that is becoming the leading, state-of-the-art choice for many women.
It’s important to understand that any decisions regarding a preventive mastectomy or breast reconstruction should be based on discussions with your physician and a thorough understanding of your choices.