Preventive (prophylactic) mastectomy: Surgical procedures to minimize breast cancer risk

Prophylactic mastectomy may well minimize your risk of breast cancer. Understand how health professionals assess breast cancer risk and how prophylactic mastectomy may well assist avert breast cancer.

By Mayo Clinic Team

Discovering out you might be at higher risk of breast cancer sales opportunities to complicated inquiries and decisions.

One particular such issue is no matter if to have preventive mastectomy (prophylactic mastectomy) — operation to clear away one or each breasts in hopes of protecting against or minimizing your risk of breast cancer.

Preserve in mind that remaining identified as owning higher risk won’t mean you might be specified to get breast cancer. All it means is that your likelihood of developing the disease is many occasions greater than that of females with average risk.

Understanding your personal degree of risk can assist you weigh your choices for risk-minimizing techniques, like prophylactic mastectomy.

Who may well take into consideration prophylactic mastectomy to minimize breast cancer risk?

All females are at risk of breast cancer just by remaining feminine and advancing in age. But some elements raise your risk appreciably.

You may well take into consideration prophylactic mastectomy if you have:

  • Presently experienced cancer in one breast. If you require to have one breast taken out because of a new cancer prognosis, and you have a hereditary breast cancer mutation, such as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, you may well come to a decision to have the other, unaffected breast taken out at the similar time. This prophylactic mastectomy would drastically minimize the risk of an additional breast cancer in your lifetime.
  • A loved ones record of breast cancer. If your mom, sister or daughter has experienced breast cancer, primarily if she was identified prior to age fifty, you may well be at enhanced risk. If you have multiple loved ones members — on your mother’s or father’s side — with breast or ovarian cancer, your risk of breast cancer may well be bigger.
  • Constructive final results from gene testing. Genetic testing can discover mutations in genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, that substantially raise your risk of breast or other cancers. If you have a quite solid loved ones record of breast cancer, such as relatives with younger-onset cancer (younger than fifty many years of age) above multiple generations, take into consideration conference with a genetic counselor to focus on genetic testing. Women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have a greater incidence of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.
  • Radiation remedy. If you experienced radiation remedy to your chest between the ages of ten and thirty, you have an enhanced risk of developing breast cancer.

Your medical doctor establishes no matter if you might be at higher risk of breast cancer centered on your risk elements.

With whom really should females at higher risk focus on their choices?

Determining what to do with the knowledge that you are at higher risk of breast cancer is a intricate and time-consuming system. It is very best if you can function with a workforce of overall health professionals that contains a genetic counselor to get a comprehensive evaluation of your risk and just take the time to fully grasp all of your choices.

A lot of breast facilities are staffed with breast-overall health experts, genetic counselors, breast surgeons and reconstructive surgeons who can collaborate with you. Next thoughts are strongly proposed for females thinking about prophylactic mastectomy.

Making the decision no matter if to have prophylactic mastectomy is not urgent. Give yourself time to weigh all the pros and disadvantages. You may well want to focus on your concerns and thoughts with a breast-overall health specialist and a psychologist.

How considerably does prophylactic mastectomy minimize the risk of breast cancer?

Prophylactic mastectomy can minimize the prospects of developing breast cancer in females at higher risk of the disease:

  • For females with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, prophylactic mastectomy decreases the risk of developing breast cancer by 90 to ninety five percent.
  • For females who have by now experienced breast cancer and also have a loved ones record of the disease, prophylactic mastectomy can minimize the risk of developing cancer in the other breast by 90 to ninety five percent.

Nevertheless, reports point out that prophylactic mastectomy of the unaffected breast (contralateral prophylactic mastectomy) has little or no outcome on overall survival for females who have experienced breast cancer in one breast and do not have genetic mutations or hereditary risk elements.

Having a prophylactic mastectomy won’t assurance that you will never build breast cancer because all of your breast tissue can not be taken out for the duration of the operation. Often breast tissue can be found in your chest, armpit or pores and skin, above your collarbone, or on the higher component of your abdominal wall.

It is unachievable for a surgeon to clear away all of this breast tissue. Despite the fact that the prospects are slender, breast tissue remaining in your system can even now build breast cancer.

What are the hazards?

As with any operation, prophylactic mastectomy has possible troubles, like:

  • Bleeding
  • An infection
  • Discomfort
  • Panic or disappointment about modifications to your appearance
  • Troubles arising from breast reconstruction
  • The require for multiple functions

Are there other choices for minimizing the risk of breast cancer?

If you might be at higher risk of breast cancer and you come to a decision against prophylactic mastectomy, you have other choices for early detection and risk reduction.


Estrogens are hormones made in your system that can advertise breast cancer improvement and progress. Drugs that block the effects of estrogen or minimize estrogen generation in your system can minimize your risk of breast cancer. The choices include things like:

  • Tamoxifen for premenopausal or postmenopausal females
  • Raloxifene (Evista), for postmenopausal females
  • Exemestane (Aromasin), for postmenopausal females
  • Anastrozole (Arimidex), for postmenopausal females

Despite the fact that these medications can minimize the risk of invasive breast cancer by about fifty percent, they have a risk of side effects. Explore the hazards and benefits of these medications with your medical doctor, and alongside one another you can come to a decision no matter if medicine is ideal for you.

Other choices

Other choices for early detection and risk reduction include things like:

  • Breast cancer screening. Your medical doctor may well propose mammogram and MRI each individual yr. Screening really should also include an once-a-year medical breast exam by your medical doctor and breast-recognition schooling to familiarize you with the regular regularity of your breast tissue.
  • Surgical procedures to clear away the ovaries (prophylactic oophorectomy). This process can minimize the risk of each breast and ovarian cancers. In females at higher risk of breast cancer, prophylactic oophorectomy may well minimize that risk by up to fifty percent if the process is finished prior to age fifty, when females are premenopausal.
  • Healthful lifestyle. Sustaining a wholesome fat, working out most days of the 7 days, limiting alcohol use and staying away from hormone remedy for the duration of menopause may well minimize the risk of breast cancer.

    Eating a wholesome diet plan may well reduce your risk of some sorts of cancer, as effectively as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

    For illustration, females who eat a Mediterranean diet plan supplemented with additional-virgin olive oil and combined nuts may well have a minimized risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet plan focuses largely on plant-centered foodstuff, such as fruits and vegetables, total grains, legumes, and nuts. Folks who follow the Mediterranean diet plan choose wholesome fats, such as olive oil, above butter and eat fish alternatively of purple meat.