How do you decide if a mastectomy is right for you?

dmdudra
dmdudra Member Posts: 50
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I was told at first a total mastectomy of the left breast is what I could expect. Then told that I might consider having a complete mastectomy of both breast. Then later after the AC chemo treatment that a lumpectomy might be possible. Then after the MRI after that treatment that there is still some lumps in the breast but no way of knowing if they are cancer or just scar tissue.. So how do you know or decide to have a mastectomy or not?

Comments

  • Ltalcott
    Ltalcott Member Posts: 119
    tough decision
    I chose bilateral mastectomies--which was proven to be the correct decision afterwards. I had BC in both breasts, and in addition to the spots that had been biopsied, there were several places with DCIS.

    Without breasts, my chances of having another instance of breast cancer go down to about 2%--and only that high because I have a tiny amount of breast tissue right under the skin. I had DIEP flap reconstruction at the time of the mastectomies. I will never have to have another mammogram.

    Other women here have had lumpectomies, and are equally happy with their decisions. It has to be your decision, though.

    Lisa
  • susieraph
    susieraph Member Posts: 12
    Ltalcott said:

    tough decision
    I chose bilateral mastectomies--which was proven to be the correct decision afterwards. I had BC in both breasts, and in addition to the spots that had been biopsied, there were several places with DCIS.

    Without breasts, my chances of having another instance of breast cancer go down to about 2%--and only that high because I have a tiny amount of breast tissue right under the skin. I had DIEP flap reconstruction at the time of the mastectomies. I will never have to have another mammogram.

    Other women here have had lumpectomies, and are equally happy with their decisions. It has to be your decision, though.

    Lisa

    second opinion
    Yes, it is a tough decision. It might be beneficial for you to get a second opinion on your case. I found that doctors welcome this idea as well. For me bilateral mastectomies was the best option and I have been very happy with my decision. Sounds like you have questions unanswered.
    Susie
  • Noel
    Noel Member Posts: 3,095 Member
    Hi!
    I had a lumpectomy and that was the right choice for ME. I, personally, could not have accepted losing my breasts..I just couldn't. I only have a very tiny scar and my radiation treatments are almost over. PHEW! I know that some women might disagree with me possibly, but, my breasts are part of me, part of my sexuality, part of my feeling like a woman. I thank God that I only had to have the lumpectomy. It has been proven that your chances of survival or a recurrence are no different with a mastectomy or a lumpectomy. But, everyone's case is different and how everyone feels is different. You should be given your options and YOU should make the choice. After all, it your body and your life and you will be the one living with the choice. Good luck to you..let us know how you do!
  • mmontero38
    mmontero38 Member Posts: 1,510
    First let me welcome you to
    First let me welcome you to the group. And..... then say that the decision has to be something YOU can live with. Many factors would determine which procedure would be right for you. One would be tumor size, breast size, aggressiveness of tumor, grade, etc. I chose to have a mastectomy because my tumor was extremely aggressive. I went for a mammogram the end of January and everything was clear, I then felt the tumor the beginning of May, so we knew just with that fact alone that it was very aggressive. I also chose the mastectomy for peace of mind. I will not have to worry about it anymore. No more mammograms on that side. I then chose to have the tram flap reconstruction and I am very happy with the decision I made. You have a little time before making a rash decision, so go for a second opinion and then decide from there. Good luck and hugs and prayers going your way, Lili
  • Jeanne D
    Jeanne D Member Posts: 1,867
    I was offered a lumpectomy
    I was offered a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. But, the lumpectomy with radiation treatments was at the top of the oncologist's list. My tumor was small, .8cm, and no lymph nodes involved, clean margins and MRI showed nothing new. I am also stage 1. So for me...a lumpectomy was all that I would even consider. My breasts are very important to me as a person, as a woman and as a being. I could never face losing them. So, I am very happy with my lumpectomy. I had surgery in January of this year and it is already hard to even see my scar. But, everyone has to do what is right for them and go over your options. Good luck with whatever you do inre to your treatment!
  • virginiamc
    virginiamc Member Posts: 3
    Your Decision
    Hi,

    I decided to have a double mastectomy because I didn't want to live my life waiting for the other shoe to fall.

    With the skin sparing mastectomy, it did not feel or look like I had a double mastectomy. Weird huh?

    One saying I heard in my doctor's office from other women was:

    Cancer means:
    New hairstyle and bigger breasts!

    Good luck with your decision!
  • Kristin N
    Kristin N Member Posts: 1,968 Member

    Your Decision
    Hi,

    I decided to have a double mastectomy because I didn't want to live my life waiting for the other shoe to fall.

    With the skin sparing mastectomy, it did not feel or look like I had a double mastectomy. Weird huh?

    One saying I heard in my doctor's office from other women was:

    Cancer means:
    New hairstyle and bigger breasts!

    Good luck with your decision!

    Gawd
    I always gasp when I see people post about how great a mastectomy is..how it is a big boob job. I guess I don't see the humor in it. Maybe ones that have it done do. No offense to anyone that has had one, but, the pics and the ones I have seen...don't look like "just a boob job".
  • mimivac
    mimivac Member Posts: 2,143
    Seems like there are a lot
    Seems like there are a lot of things to think about for you. None of us can really advise you, just tell you about our experiences. I had a 2.6 centimenter tumor in a not huge breast. The tumor was extremely aggressive (grew pretty much overnight) and does not respond to hormonal therapy. Still, I choose a lumpectomy. I didn't want to have my breast(s) removed if it was possible to do otherwise. My surgeon and oncologist believed that it was a reasonable choice to make. Getting a mastectomy does have the benefit of no more mammograms. But there is still the possibility of recurrence in the remaining breast tissue or a distant metastasis without a local recurrance at all (god forbid). Just saying, mastectomy does not guarantee that one will be cancer free. Some things to think about. Good luck with your decision.

    Mimi
  • Ltalcott
    Ltalcott Member Posts: 119
    Kristin N said:

    Gawd
    I always gasp when I see people post about how great a mastectomy is..how it is a big boob job. I guess I don't see the humor in it. Maybe ones that have it done do. No offense to anyone that has had one, but, the pics and the ones I have seen...don't look like "just a boob job".

    no one wants a mastectomy
    Kristin,

    No one wants a mastectomy, but a lumpectomy isn't a solution for a lot of us, and it doesn't give lots of us the kind of reassurance we need.

    I have been having annual mammograms since I turned 40--I'm now 53. Except most of the time, it wasn't once a year, but "oh, let's look at that again in 3 months," "Let's look at that in 6 months," "Let's do a biopsy and see--we don't think it's anything..."

    Over the last nine years I've had three biopsies and one lumpectomy that turned out to be nothing (the lumpectomy was on a tumor/cyst that was very deep and could not be successfully biopsied.) Then in January I had my first screening MRI (because of both my family history, and my own biopsy history.) Two tumors were bright blue, green, yellow and red colors against the grey/black MRI of the breasts, one dime-sized on the left and one pin-sized on the right. They both turned out to be invasive ductal carinoma. My surgeon said the two tumors were not connected to each other, but separate instances of cancer--after all, I take both of them the same places. My breasts were ready to make cancer.

    So, if they are ready to make cancer, do I really want to take that dime-sized and pin-sized piece out and continue with 'annual' mammograms? Waiting for the next cancer?

    I had a "boob job" and it isn't great. My breast are nothing like normal--they still feel like rocks, although I've been assured they will soften up after a while. But I felt like the bilateral mastectomy was the only sensible choice for me. It isn't great--but in my case it's life-saving, and sanity-saving.

    If I don't laugh and make fun of myself and my situation, I'll cry. (And yes, I'll cry anyway.)

    Lisa
    (Anyone want my opinion on lumpectomy??)
  • dorothyt
    dorothyt Member Posts: 103
    mimivac said:

    Seems like there are a lot
    Seems like there are a lot of things to think about for you. None of us can really advise you, just tell you about our experiences. I had a 2.6 centimenter tumor in a not huge breast. The tumor was extremely aggressive (grew pretty much overnight) and does not respond to hormonal therapy. Still, I choose a lumpectomy. I didn't want to have my breast(s) removed if it was possible to do otherwise. My surgeon and oncologist believed that it was a reasonable choice to make. Getting a mastectomy does have the benefit of no more mammograms. But there is still the possibility of recurrence in the remaining breast tissue or a distant metastasis without a local recurrance at all (god forbid). Just saying, mastectomy does not guarantee that one will be cancer free. Some things to think about. Good luck with your decision.

    Mimi

    Like everyone is saying, it
    Like everyone is saying, it is up to you. I had a mastectomy, And I do not feel like I'm less of a woman, because, love comes from your heart and not you breast. And I know I'm still sexy. Like I said it is up to you. My ONC told me that there were no signs of any cancer when I had my check-up in March.
  • dmdudra
    dmdudra Member Posts: 50
    thanks for your response
    I have 6 down on the taxol treatment and 6 more to go. I am waiting to hear back from my surgeon of which she is a breast cancer survivor too. I will decide then what is best for me either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy of the left breast. I did have a biopsy of my right breast and it came back benign. Thank goodness. Thank you all for you responses. It is nice to know that I am not alone in all this. Sure my boyfriend is by my side but he really does not have a clue as to what I am going through.. thanks again.. Diane
  • 334455
    334455 Member Posts: 8
    How do you decide if a mastectomy is right for you?
    I know in my situation I made the final decision because there was no guarantee that with a lumpectomy and the intricate placement of very long needles in the breast that there would be clear margins. I did not want to go through possibly having multiple lumpectomies. Based on the mammogram, diagnostic mammogram, core biopsy and MRI I ultimately knew that I could't handle going through multiple lumpectomies if the DCIS was still present. I chose to have a mastectomy with removal of some lymph nodes. As it turned out the pathology report of the removed breast showed that I had extensive DCIS all over the breast. I knew in my heart that is what I had to do. I cannot advise anyone on making such an important decision as having a mastectomy, but I hope sharing my experience can at least be helpful to you in some way.
    I chose to have a permanent sterile saline implant put in with nipple reconstruction followed by tatooing. It is a very long process, but I feel better about myself for doing this.
  • tasha_111
    tasha_111 Member Posts: 2,072
    334455 said:

    How do you decide if a mastectomy is right for you?
    I know in my situation I made the final decision because there was no guarantee that with a lumpectomy and the intricate placement of very long needles in the breast that there would be clear margins. I did not want to go through possibly having multiple lumpectomies. Based on the mammogram, diagnostic mammogram, core biopsy and MRI I ultimately knew that I could't handle going through multiple lumpectomies if the DCIS was still present. I chose to have a mastectomy with removal of some lymph nodes. As it turned out the pathology report of the removed breast showed that I had extensive DCIS all over the breast. I knew in my heart that is what I had to do. I cannot advise anyone on making such an important decision as having a mastectomy, but I hope sharing my experience can at least be helpful to you in some way.
    I chose to have a permanent sterile saline implant put in with nipple reconstruction followed by tatooing. It is a very long process, but I feel better about myself for doing this.

    Lumpectomy Vs Mastectomy
    I had lumpectomy thinking it would be not as noticeable...IT IS. I wish I had gone the whole hog and had the double mastectomy. I can't wear a t-shirt or anything close fitting and I still have to have mammos, also it is really bumpy, hard and painful. And I have one nipple facing south-west and the other facing north-east. I'd have been better off not waiting for the other shoe to drop, like I am now. GL Jxxxxxxxxx
  • Jeanne D
    Jeanne D Member Posts: 1,867
    tasha_111 said:

    Lumpectomy Vs Mastectomy
    I had lumpectomy thinking it would be not as noticeable...IT IS. I wish I had gone the whole hog and had the double mastectomy. I can't wear a t-shirt or anything close fitting and I still have to have mammos, also it is really bumpy, hard and painful. And I have one nipple facing south-west and the other facing north-east. I'd have been better off not waiting for the other shoe to drop, like I am now. GL Jxxxxxxxxx

    I know what was right for me
    but, you have to make the choice for yourself..what is right for YOU! I had a lumpectomy and am so glad that I did. My breasts are important to me, they are a part of me, part of my sexual being and I did not want to lose them. I was lucky as my tumor was small and I had clean margins. I don't think I could ever get a masectomy. I am in radiation now and even the radiation tech's say how hard it is to even see my scar. It is really hard to find. Ofcourse, I had a great surgeon, which is important. And, I have my radiation tan going, which makes the tiny scar blend in even more. Even though I just had my surgery in January of this year, I don't think anyone could tell I even had it if it wasn't for the skin tone because I am in radiation. And, even with a mastectomy, breast cancer can come back. And, they say that the chance of a recurrence is the same with a mastectomy or with a lumpectomy. Makes no difference. But, it is an individual choice. You need to do what is best, right and comfortable for YOU because you have to live with the decision. I wish you the best!