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one or two breasts removed?

dbhadra's picture
Posts: 344
Joined: Jan 2011

Hello all:

Met with a breast surgeon today and talked about getting one or both breasts removed. The cancer is in the right breast, but I am thinking about removing both and going for a full reconstruction on both. All the doctors/surgeons I;ve talked to seem to lean towards only one breast removed and keep the other.

All along I was thinking to get them both done but now feel like I am back on the fence.

My breast cancer is inflammatory type, going through chemo and will go through radiation as well. Surgery would be scheduled for mid-July.

Any thoughts?


Dawne.Hope's picture
Posts: 825
Joined: Sep 2009

Dear Laura,

I'm so sorry you're going throug all this c$@* and have to make such a decision. Your dilemma is such an incredibly personal one that no one but you can make.

Some things to think about are:
* Your family history. Have you had any genetic testing done? If you're BRAC1 or 2 positive, your chances of getting bc in your other breast are much higher. There are genetic links they haven't found ... so if there is history in your family it would be well worth your time to talk to a genetic counselor.
* Sexual issues. If you have both breasts removed, there will no longer be feeling in your breasts. If that is an issue for you sexually, you need to really think about whether or not is it worth it.
* Symmetry issues. Some women don't mind having a natural breast and another breast with a prosthetic or a reconstructed breast or a flat side; for some it is a huge issue. You'll need to think about whether or not it is an issue for you.
* Recovery time and post-operative complications. Having both sides removed, there is a longer recovery time and some women have issues with lymphedema with only getting breasts removed with no lymph node removal .. while rare, it DOES happen. Are you willing to take the risk?

I opted to have both breast removed when I only had BC in one side. I don't regret my decision but it is an extremely tough one and like I said above ... a very personal one ... one that only can make for yourself. When making the decision I felt like I was trying to decide if I would rather be eaten by a lion or shark ... neither decision was one I wanted to do ... both options were terrible ... but I had to pick one. You're doing the right stuff ... ask questions, ask questions, ask questions, talk to your loved ones, but ultimately do what you feel you must do for your own peace of mind.

Prayers for you that you would have wisdom.
Much love to you! xo

P.S. The type of bc is a factor too. I'm not up on inflammatory BC, so others will correct me if I'm wrong ... but I THINK that inflammatory BC, while being extremely aggressive, it isn't likely to spread to the other side. So, that's another reason why your family history is so important and may be the reason why your docs are only recommending a mx on the one side. Again, others will correct me if I'm wrong.

Posts: 145
Joined: Feb 2010

I agree it is such a personal thing, I had BC on my right and Atypical on my left and I made the decision to have both removed. It didn't take me but minutes to decide but after my left pre cancer over the last 7 years I knew what I would do.
I wish you the best at whatever you decide to do but as Dawn.hope said ask more queations than you ever thought you could come up with!!
Hugs :) Robbin

jnl's picture
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

Laura, I had a lumpectomy and rads. But, I did want to wish you good luck in your decision. Like others wrote, it is your choice.

Best of luck,


Posts: 3658
Joined: Aug 2009

I'm IBC (InFlammatory Breast Cancer - there are sevral of us 'here'). Can only tell you what I was told and what I did.

I had a single mod. rad. mast. - that was what was recommended to me by ALL my Drs. No 'talk' about recon for a year. Next Monday, I see my surgeon for 1 1/2 yr check and I had my PA has put in for recon appt. (don't have it yet). Personally I'm very happy with doing a 'single', rather of not I do recon is still up in the air - don't even know now if I'm a candidate for it as I have issues with lymphedema more than most do.

Surgeon wouldn't talk about doing anything til I did neo-Adjunct Chemo which I did do 4 dense dose A/C and 2 weeks after last one I had surgery. 3 weeks after surgery I started 12 weekly Taxol and a week after last Taxol started Rads. That's just me; different people and different Drs have different plans. Have been on Femara for over a year - still close to 4 years to go on it.

You are the only one that can make your decisions - I'm quite happy with mine - no matter what the future brings.

Remember that IBC is not what most deal with - only 1% - 5% of BC people deal with IBC. It is a very nasty monster. When looking for information on line - look for Inflammatory Breast Cancer sites/info - different

lynn1950's picture
Posts: 2574
Joined: Jun 2008

This is such a difficult decision and there is no one "right answer." As Dawn.Hope says there is much to consider and ultimately, neither is a choice we wish to make. Even though I knew that statistically I was a candidate for one side being removed...just the trauma of thinking that I might have to go through the whole treatment again sometime in the future helped me in my decision to go for a bilateral mastectomy, as brutal as that choice seems. Since I have not had reconstruction (I am such a wimp!), I am glad for the symmetry. I don't wear a bra or prosthesis and really don't want to. One other thing: I was not prepared for how the scar would look, and that was a setback. It is a good idea to view images of what women look like with and without reconstruction. No matter what, whatever choice you make will be "right" for you! Life is good. xoxoxoxo Lynn

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

and have to make such a tough decision. I had lumpectomy so I didnt' have to decided on much....I hope you can come up with decision and feel good about it...

I"LL be thinking of you...


dbhadra's picture
Posts: 344
Joined: Jan 2011

I had a VERY emotional reaction to meeting with the surgeon yesterday..I think the reality that I was actually going to have the operation sunk in as it had not before...having her check and essentially "measure" my breasts and see what she was going to cut out was so emotionally difficult..I kept asking her lots of questions about what exactly she was going to do....but when she was actually answering those questions it was very tough to hear it....essentially she said that they cut open the breast and "scoop" out all all the affected tissue and then sew it back it...I was surprised as my impression was that it would be all "cut off" and nothing would be left...but she said there would be "mounds"...kind of like a little breast, I guess? Anyone with experience that can tell me what was left after the surgery?


sunshine0406's picture
Posts: 65
Joined: Mar 2011

Hi Laura (my name is Laura also:) I had only the left side removed. I went online and looked up mastectomy reconstruction pictures just so I would know what I would be staring at in the mirror (I have to have radiation after surgery so I have to wait to have my DIEP reconstruction at a later time). That means time to see my "lump". I had a skin sparing surgery on Feb 28th, I have a bit of extra skin, it looks like a deflated balloon, almost like when I was 12, but with no nipple. Again if you really want to know, looking at the pictures helped, it did not totally prepare me for what I saw but it did help me not to be so upset when I first had to look at it. I hope this helps and if you want to message me privately I would be willing to talk with you more. I know I wish I would have found this board before my surgery. Everyone on here is so helpful, open and honest. I wish you well and hope you will find the answer that is right for you.
P.S. I almost forgot.... my sister helped me by doing a pro-con list and I was surprised it helped!

sunshine0406's picture
Posts: 65
Joined: Mar 2011
Different Ballgame's picture
Different Ballgame
Posts: 868
Joined: Jan 2010

Aunt Marie had one breast removed and had reconstruction when she was in her 40's. This is what she told me. As we age our reconstructed will stay the same size, but our real breast may increase in size if we gain weight. So when she reached her 60's, she had gained 20-30 lbs. and she ended up wearing an additional prothesis with her reconstructed breast so she would balance her shape.

In other words, the real breast will go up and down in size depending on your weight, but your reconstructed breast will always stay the same.

Lots of Hugs,

meena1's picture
Posts: 1005
Joined: Oct 2008

I have IBC and i had 1 breast removed, that is what my surgeon wanted, so that is why i did that. Then when i saw DR C, he said that he would not have removed either breast since i was already stage 4. You may want to have just the one removed and then have surgery on the other breast to even it out. I have not completed my surgery yet, i still have an expander in

Heatherbelle's picture
Posts: 1227
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Laura, I also had cancer in one breast and opted to have both removed. I had an aggressive cancer, and I wanted to be as aggressive as I could in fighting it. And also, I met with a plastic surgeon before i made my decision regarding surgery & having a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction would give me the best results cosmetically. My boobs already did their job -they helped me land a great husband & fed both of my babies. My new ones look better than the old ones did, and I dont have to worry about them getting saggy when we're older ;)

Posts: 579
Joined: Dec 2010

Gosh it's hard. Totally your decision, the other ladies all give great advice. One breast was removed (I was very big busted) so the plastic surgeon made my normal breast smaller to match up with the others implant put in on the same day. So, as routinely done, the material taken from the good breast was sent away and tested. They found the same cancer in very early stages and another small area already active. None of which caught on yearly mamos. So returned the next month for another removal. My cancer does often appear in other side and was estrogen positive. I need more balance, too much difference in the sizes which should be sorted in my final op in May. Then I can wear all the lovely tops I never could being too large and dont have to wear a bra again unless want to. It depends on how the surgeon cuts how your appearance is. If they cut under the breast it looks good, down the middle north to south not so good. I have one of each, no ones fault. My skin wasn't ready of a second surgery so had to be cut in a different direction. Have to say if both are done, both are more likely to be similar in appearance especially if skin expanders are implanted. Big decision, I was lucky they made it for me, it was a necessity. Good luck.

csr771's picture
Posts: 117
Joined: Mar 2011

I agree with everyone else, it is such a hard and personal choice. I decided to have only one breast removed. I think that a lot of the ladies have given valuable things to think about. I have a breast mound now. It was constructed with fat from my abdomen. Although it is nice with clothes,I have cleavage, it is pretty much the same size as my real breast, it does not have a lot of feeling. I think your age, family history, DX, etc. have to be considered. You have to make a decision based on one you can live with--what you can handle.

cahjah75's picture
Posts: 2631
Joined: Jun 2010

I had Invasive Lobular Carcinoma in one breast and Lobular Carcinoma in Situ in the other. Because I am the 5th with bc in my family (I tested negative for BRACA gene) I opted for bilateral mastectomy. I wanted to be done with it.
{{hugs}} Char

Posts: 1416
Joined: Mar 2001

Because I was stage 3 with 11 out 21 pos. nodes and very ill at time of diagnosis the surgeon recommended only having the cancerous breast removed and doing treatments. Over 90% of his business was breast cancer so the surgeon I wanted doing mine. My mother a nurse also didn't want me to do both and to worry about the cancerous side first. I had the other removed a year to the day after finding more lumps. I to this day have not had more surgery for reconstruction don't do well with surgery even.

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