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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Preventive Mastectomy Satisfying

Survey Shows Patients Don't Regret Decision to Remove Disease-Free Breast

Other Breast Cancer Options

Geiger tells WebMD that preventive mastectomy is and should remain a fairly rare procedure, because it is never a breast cancer patient's only option.

Other effective therapies to either reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer or a breast cancer patient's risk of recurrence include preventive drugs like tamoxifen, increased surveillance, and even removal of the ovaries if the woman is past the reproductive phase of her life.

A patient should also never feel pressured to have the procedure, says University of Texas MD Anderson surgical oncology professor Sonja Eva Singletary, MD.

"We have found that the best candidates for preventive mastectomy are the patients who initiate the conversation," she tells WebMD. "We usually try to talk patients out of it. The ones who feel strongly about doing it are the ones who end up most satisfied with their decision. There is no looking back with regret."

Kennedy says she never agonized over her decision, and has never looked back.

Her surgeons used an increasingly popular skin-sparing technique when they removed both her breasts, giving her a very natural look following breast reconstruction.

Five years after her surgery, Kennedy now talks daily to patients facing treatment decisions as a staffer for the Chicago-based breast cancer hotline Y-ME.

She says younger patients tend to be the most interested in the option of preventive mastectomy.

"I had a unique vantage point because I had seen what my sister went through because she was undertreated both the first and second time she had breast cancer," she says. "Having a double mastectomy freed me from that worry. It freed me up to live my life."

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