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Unilateral or bilateral mastectomy?

lndsmom
Posts: 20
Joined: Oct 2009

Hi...I was dx'd with Stage III IDC at the end of June and started chemo (TAC) on 7/17/09. (My last chemo is this Friday. YEAH!!) I'm 41 years old.

I am scheduled for a right mastectomy & removal of lymph nodes on 11/30.

My surgeon recommended the single mastectomy and said my risk of getting BC in the other breast is no more than usual, about 1%. However, if my genetic testing comes back positive, she will perform a bilateral mastectomy to reduce my risk. (Testing won't be back for another 2 wks or so, but with a lack of family history of BC the chances are it will come back negative.) I am extremely comfortable with my surgeon and I want to believe this, but I just wonder if the anxiety & worry about getting BC on the other side is going to do me in.

I am uncertain about reconstructive surgery at this time.

If mastectomy was recommended for you, did you just do the one or did you opt for both? Did you have to convince your surgeon to do a bilateral? How did you do that?

Thanks in advance for sharing!
Penny

mimivac's picture
mimivac
Posts: 2147
Joined: Dec 2008

Welcome, Penny, and congrats on almost finishing chemo. That's great! As for your question, I had a lumpectomy, so I can't speak directly to it. As you know, the choice is entirely a personal one. Some people find that they cannot rest knowing that cancer can come back to the other breast, however remote the possibility. Also, remember that cancer could come back regardless of breast removal, so it is not a 100% guarantee. Some say they do it for reconstrution reasons, so that both breasts look even or so they are not lopsided if they choose no reconstruction. You have a while to make a decision, so I would just sit with it and do just what you're doing: ask for opinions, talk to other women, and then think about what would make you comfortable. Then forget about it for a week or so. Sometimes the answer comes to you when you're not actively mulling it over, after you've done all your research, etc. Good luck with your decision.

Mimi

Marcia527's picture
Marcia527
Posts: 2736
Joined: Jul 2006

I asked my surgeon if it would come back in the other side and he said no. So I kept one. I did not have the genetic test. Maybe I should have because my mom had ovarian and a sister had breast after I did and a cousin had breast that I didn't know about at the time. Circumstances don't permit me to do it now. I had treatment in 2003/2004.

Congratulations on finishing chemo.

patti anne's picture
patti anne
Posts: 101
Joined: Oct 2009

Hi Penny and welcome!

I was dx with stage II IDC in January of this year. I was 42 at diagnosis. I had a unilateral mastectomy, but now I wish I would have had the bilateral. My concern at the time was just to get the cancer out. I don't remember a bilateral even being discussed, but my husband told me it was. (everything is such a blur from that time) I too have the anxiety of the cancer going to the other breast even though the Dr's told me the same thing they told you. I still worry though.

Now, I am researching my reconstruction options and know that I want them to remove the other breast. I told my Dr this back in August and he told me he wanted me to think about it for a bit more. (I couldn't do reconstruction right away anyway because of radiation) I will see him again in Nov/Dec and I know I still want the other one removed. I just have to decide what type of reconstruction will be best and what the plastic surgeon recommends.

I guess what I'm saying is....if I could go back, I'd have them remove both breasts. It is definitely a personal decision and not an easy one!

Patti

CypressCynthia's picture
CypressCynthia
Posts: 4017
Joined: Oct 2009

I was told the same thing when I had my left mastectomy, but then, a few years later, 2 of my 3 sisters also suffered breast cancer. Then I was told I should have the other breast removed, so in about 1993 I had a prophylactic right mastectomy also. 22 years later, I have recently suffered a recurrence in my right ribs (cancer was in left breast). Don't know if any of my tale helps as I have a weird family history. By the way, genetic testing has been negative thus far.

GreeneyedGirl's picture
GreeneyedGirl
Posts: 1027
Joined: Sep 2008

I had dcis, and wound up with a mastectomy on my left side only. I had the right breast reduced to match. No history of bc in my family. I am doing great, and recently finished reconstruction of the left breast.
Melanie

e_hope's picture
e_hope
Posts: 371
Joined: Sep 2009

I am 36 with right bc stage 2b.. and choose a bilateral mastectomy. I didn't have to convince my surgeon when I approached him on how he would feel about doing the double. He said taking my age.. the aggressiveness of the cancer he can support my decision.

MY feelings are.. I wanted to everything possible to reduce the risk of recurrence.. and knew I would never be able to live with the guilt if it would come back and I didn't take every precaution I felt comfortable with....

I had reconstruction surgery with expanders and have no regrets for making this decision.. again for me it was a easy choice to choose expanders over tram flap recon.. I just didn't feel comfortable with disturbing with my core muscles.. and wanted options if god for bid it would come back...

My suggestions is sit down and list reasons why you want the double and once you come to a decision.. stick with it.. because at the end of the day.... ONLY YOU.. have to live with the decision..

good luck..

meena1's picture
meena1
Posts: 1005
Joined: Oct 2008

I had 1 breast removed because my doctor told me that I did not need to have both removed and I trusted him completely. My ocologist also agreed with the breast surgeon. Also, i have a low tolerance for pain, i do not do well with surgery, and i was absolutely terrified of having a masectomy. So that was a good choice for me. There were some people who told me that they would have both removed, and blah, blah, blah. But, I made the right decision for ME. I also took the recovery time into consideration.. take care, and hope you make the right decision

mlmjt1
Posts: 540
Joined: Jul 2009

To me there was nothing to think about. I had fibrocystic breast disease and have had more trouble with mammograms than I can count. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer on the right side they also told me that they saw a shadow on the mri on the left and it would be something I would always would have to watch. My cancer is aggressive and so I opted for the bilateral with expanders. I dont regret my decision at all, though I have had problems with the expander on the right side where the cancer was. I had to have it removed about 1 month after surgery and now that chemo is done, I will have it reinserted in january.

YOu have to decide what works for you and your head. I could never have rested thinking about the possibility of cancer on the left. But that is me and my situation. Everyone is different and you will make the choice that will make you feel most at peace.

Hugs to you
LInda T

lovelylola's picture
lovelylola
Posts: 279
Joined: Aug 2009

My mother had bc 40 years ago and initially had her left breast removed and then 6 months later had to have the right one removed. (By the way, she was an almost 40 year survivor) From that time on I knew that if I ever was diagnosed, both would go.
When I went in for my surgery consult, I began the conversation with the surgeon with the statement "This is my consult and I want a bilateral mastectomy". She was awesome and didn't question my decision at all and I haven't regretted it.
Each of us is different in how we want to wage our fight, but we are the generals. As long as you are comfortable with your choice for you, fight for it with your doctor. Get second opinions and learn the battlefield.
I wish you the best and my thoughts and prayers are with you that you find comfort in your decision. Sending you good vibes {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{ here they come. Lola

VickiSam's picture
VickiSam
Posts: 8570
Joined: Aug 2009

on my previous history of thyroid and cervical cancer. I have also received 3 opioions, and this is MY choice.

Data is inconsistence in recurrence.

Remember this is your decision, not mine.

Good luck and let us all know how you are doing.

Strength, Courage and Love,

VickiSam

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