According to the MSD Manual, breast cancer is a disease involving cells of the breast in the ducts and lobules. These cells begin to grow uncontrollably and have no programmed natural death, plus they can form lumps in the breast (which may be palpable or visible on medical images).
Although in most clinical cases the patient is usually a woman, this condition It can also appear in men.
Moreover, we can distinguish between several subtypes depending on your location. If it appears in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple, it is a ductal cancer. However, it can develop in the glands that produce milk (lobular tumor). A small percentage of this pathology can occur in other regions of the breast.
At present, the most effective method of prevention is mastectomy.
Mastectomy to prevent breast cancer
A mastectomy is a surgery in which one or both breasts are removed of the patient. Thus, the risk of developing (or recurring) breast cancer can be significantly reduced. It can also be found as a prophylactic mastectomy (prevents a medical alteration).
As a general rule, the medical team recommends this type of procedure over breast-conserving surgery. That’s because the mastectomy reduces the chances of breast cancer by more than 90%. However, there are patients who have also suffered because it is not possible to remove all the breast cells that could be cancerous.
Likewise, the person always has the possibility to choose between the two interventions and you can consult the specialists at any time.
Considerations to take into account
Normally the different types of cancer (not just breast cancer) are produced by modifications of the genetic material or DNA of the cells that make up one or more tissues. This cellular change it can be caused by various triggers. Therefore, before performing surgery, the medical team evaluates whether the patient:
- owns a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. These are genes that, if altered, can increase the risk of breast cancer. Their status can be verified through various genetic tests carried out in specialized laboratories.
- presents some family history of this type of cancer. A family history is a relative who has suffered from a certain disease. The medical team should be informed of any family history before making the diagnosis.
- You have or have had breast cancer on another occasion.
- He had a chest x-ray when he was in his 30s. Today there are special measures that control radiation by significantly reducing its negative effects. However, exposure to any type of radiation may be capable of causing mutations in the DNA of our cells. Thus, the chances of developing different types of cancer increase.
- has or had lobular carcinoma in situ or LCIS. This is a breast condition in which cells in the glands that produce milk begin to grow abnormally. On the other hand, it is not considered a subtype of breast cancer per se, but patients who suffer from it have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Indications for preventive mastectomy in breast cancer
In this way there are two medical conditions in which this method is usually practiced preventive:
- Individuals at very high risk of breast cancer. In this case, lateral prophylactic mastectomy is normally performed, i.e. both breasts are removed. Although the risk is small, it is possible that they will develop cancer after the surgery.
- Patients who have already developed breast cancer. Instead, in these clinical cases, specialists opt for the use of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, or CPM. Thus, the risk of developing a second breast cancer in the other breast is reduced. Studies are currently underway to verify the effectiveness of this method and whether they compensate for the secondary risks of the operation.
It’s important consider the psychological aspect when performing a mastectomy. Some patients may experience disturbances due to the change in their body image. For this reason, mammoplasty is sometimes performed, a procedure that aims to restore the original image of the breast.
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