The Chief of Breast Surgery was on CBS This Morning with Gayle King and Charlie Rose discussing breast cancer and mastectomies. I watched the interview and had to rewind it a bit just to be sure I caught the entire thing. While I applaud her efforts at trying to get women to maintain their natural body parts, the medical community for years, has been telling women how bilaterals would decrease the return of breast cancer - and possibly reduce another cancer elsewhere in their body.
This doctor turned it on its heels taking a 180-position saying that 1-20 women choose to have "unnecessary" bi-laterals when the removal of one breast is justified. From 1997-2007, there has been a 10x increase and that women overestimate the return of cancer to the other breast. She stated cancer normally doesn't go to the other breast, but if it returns, it goes somewhere else in the body. Further, she said women don't get what they hope for such as lower risk of return of the cancer, OR "improved survival from the cancer they have" by having both breasts removed, BUT they do get other things such as the possibility of a more symmetrical appearance or, a reduction in the cancerous possibilities from BRCA 1/2 and future false positives and such.
Needless to say, I was hopeful for women in the future, but a little flabbergasted from everything that I have learned through my own journey. So, here is my take, my words, my opinion for that Chief and all women.
Rest assured, MY life has already been "IMPROVED" by an entire FIVE YEARS. That of which I likely would not have seen Christmas 2009 if I had not taken drastic measures as my cancer was very mean and aggressive.If I had not had both removed, it would have been bad for me because other small tumors were "hiding" in the other breast in a location at the chest wall and not seen on MRI and mammo.
I believe women today elect for bilateral surgery because they do their homework, or have help, or have been informed by the medical community that is is/was the safest, most hopeful long-term treatment (once the surgical aspect is complete). Placing all breast cancers into one pile stating that a bilateral is not necessary is a dangerous path to tread. IF the cancer had/has already hit the lymph nodes (your body's super highway), then it has already traveled elsewhere anyway (as she said) and a patient then waits for the ugly monster to rear its head. Then, women tackle the beast that day, but not today.
My opinion was, and remains, that I would rather opt for a chance at long term survival - for which I AM living proof. I appreciate her valuable opinion, but respectfully disagree with her. I am certain the 100 women diagnosed today in NY will listen to her and weigh her words and proceed to choose their path carefully.