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Creating Waves of Awareness

Two Main Types of Breast Cancer
  • Ductal carcinoma starts in the tubes (ducts) that move milk from the breast to the nipple. Most breast cancers are of this type.
  • Lobular carcinoma starts in parts of the breast, called lobules, that produce milk. In rare cases, breast cancer can start in other areas of the breast.
  • Many breast cancers are sensitive to the hormone estrogen. This means that estrogen causes the breast cancer tumor to grow. Such cancer is called estrogen receptor positive cancer or ER positive cancer.
Some women have what''s called HER2-positive breast cancer. HER2 refers to a gene that helps cells grow, divide, and repair themselves. When cells have too many copies of this gene, cells -- including cancer cells -- grow faster. Experts think that women with HER2-positive breast cancer have a more aggressive disease and a higher risk of recurrence than those who do not have this type.

More Women With Breast Cancer Choosing Double Mastectomies News reports and TV shows have showcased stories of healthy women who have had both breasts removed because of their high risk for breast cancer, but relatively few women who have not had cancer actually take this radical step, a new study of New York state data has found.

At the same time, a growing number of women with cancer in one breast have been choosing to have their second healthy breast removed, the state study found, despite a lack of evidence that the surgery improves long-term survival.

The analysis of New York hospital discharge data and cancer registry data is believed to be the first to provide clear information on how many women without breast cancer undergo prophylactic mastectomies, said the study’s author, Dr. Stephen B. Edge, a professor of surgery and oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. The study was published online Sept. 28 in the journal Cancer.

I would like to hear some opinions about a woman making this kind of decision.
I am wondering just what kind of information these women have been getting to remove a major body part that helps define them as a female. I do believe women are taking more time and doing research before going through with a radical surgery. Do they know the ramifications and what life will be like after surgery?

Does Fear Make the Decision for You?
Now that I think back to my own experience, the fear instilled by the diagnosis put a person into a state of total shock. In addition, biopsies and a barrage of information can be overwhelming without a trustworthy support system. If my sister had not said, "Wait, No!" don't have a mastectomy, look into partial mastectomy, chemo and radiation for saving the breast, that could have been me. It is an emotional roller-coaster ride of denial, waiting, anxiety, sadness, loss and grief, and facing the unknown. Fear of pain, worry about health and possible death with the cancer diagnosis.

Have Your Say
Have others experienced a similar situation? Where is your source of information? What part does heredity play? Have people heard stories of women getting mastectomy just so they don't have to worry about their future?

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