Would you take the test or have a mastectomy?

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It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I have been asked to write about and share some facts and information on Breast cancer, this week. This is the first in a series of posts, all about breasts. This is not just for women. Men can get breast cancer too, so if you are a bloke, reading this, and have women in your life, it’s important for you to read and share this information, with them, as well as being aware that men can also get this disease, although it’s much rarer.

Angelina Jolie caused great deal of discussion, speculation and raised an issue that is becoming more talked about, when she had a mastectomy and then breast reconstruction, after discovering she was the carrier of the faulty BRAC1 or BRAC2 gene that causes breast cancer, and is usually something that is hereditary. She has lost her mother and other close female family relatives to breast cancer, and made the pro active decision to have her breasts removed, in order  to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer. I personally think she made the right choice for her, and her family. She watched her mother die, and as a mother herself, made the decision to try and reduce her risk of dying, and instead having more of a chance of seeing her own children grow up. By having a mastectomy, she reduced the likelihood of her developing breast cancer by a dramatic percentage. I can understand why she went this route.

Everyone has the two genes, mentioned, it’s only when there is a fault, a certain aberration, with those genes that breast cancer can happen (with these two genes, there are other genetic issues that can be a cause or a trigger for breast cancer and ovarian) and now there are tests available, to see if a person has the faulty gene, and then after assessing family history, determining if that person is at a higher risk of certain kinds of breast cancer, decisions can be made towards their future health, and for monitoring to see if cancers develop. It’s a controversial subject. Many people believe you should not test, and shouldn’t worry about what “Might” happen, but also many people think that they would like to know, especially if they have had close family members die of breast cancer, or ovarian cancer, and then be able to make proactive choices towards preventing themselves getting it, where possible.

I have a maternal family history of breast cancer. We don’t know if my mother would have developed breast cancer, because she had another form of cancer, not breast cancer, but there are enough family ties to breast cancer that my GP has suggested I might want to be tested, at some point in the future. I do not know if I carry any of the faulty genes. Once we have finished having children, however, I will be having the test. If I do have the faulty genes, I will have a mastectomy, if that is an option offered as the most effective preventive method.  I love my breasts, I don’t want to “cut them off” but if removing them meant reducing my chances of breast cancer developing, or at least the type caused by those genes, then I won’t hesitate.  I asked 10 of my friends what they would do, and 8 out of 10 said, with very little hesitation, that they would opt for the option if that was what was going to give them a better chance of not developing breast cancer. Not everyone would take this option, it’s drastic. Not everyone thinks it’s the best one. For me, and for women like Angelina Jolie, it’s a decision not made lightly, it isn’t easy, but until they find a true cure for breast (and other cancers) it’s still an option. I want to live as long as I can, and if that is going to help me, I would do it.

I will also be having the test, so that I can share information with my daughter, and any future daughters/granddaughters. If there is a faulty gene, in our family, we can know and then hopefully, by my grandchildren’s time, there will be a cure, or better answers and treatment. Knowledge is power, where breast cancer is concerned.

You can help, though. If you want to find out more, and donate, to Breast Cancer Care

It’s an emotive subject. This is just what I would do, as I said, many people think differently, and would choose differently. What would you do?

 Don’t forget, to check your boobs. 

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One comment on “Would you take the test or have a mastectomy?
  1. Dee says:

    I’ve not had the test as there’s no history of it in our family so I’ve just had the regular mammogram and of course do my boob checks. However if I did have the faulty gene, and although it would be very upsetting, I would have a mastectomy. Living with the worry would, I feel, make life miserable. I heard a specialist discussing this on the radio around the time of Angelina Jolie’s operation. His opinion was that if you carried the faulty genes, your likelihood of developing breast cancer at some point was so close to 100% that (again in his opinion) he would always suggest a mastectomy!

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