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More High-Risk Women Preempt Breast Cancer
Date:12/3/2008

Growing number with genetic, familial susceptibilities opt for double mastectomy

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- SheKayla Love, 26, of Dallas, had the first cyst in her breast removed when she was just 14, the second when she was 19.

By the time she found the third lump, she was 25 and had watched her grandmother die of breast cancer (after being diagnosed at 55) and her mother endure both chemotherapy and radiation after being diagnosed with the same disease and undergoing a full mastectomy at age 45.

Love's first two cysts had come back benign, but a mammogram revealed the third one to be ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), when abnormal cells appear in the lining of the breast duct. The condition can turn into cancer.

She had had enough. Last year, after intensive praying and consultation with her family and doctors, Love underwent a preventive bilateral mastectomy.

"I was with my mom when she was going through all the doctor's appointments, the radiation, the chemo, just seeing her and the pain she went through and her hair falling out, the more I thought about it, I've had this going on for so long I don't want to get to that point that I have to go through that and, not only me, but if I have children, I don't want to put them through that."

Love is a "previvor." Her odds of developing breast cancer have now plummeted by about 90 percent, and she joins a growing cadre of women who opt for some kind of preemptive strike against higher odds of breast cancer.

Many of these women, like Christina Applegate, test positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation which puts them at heightened risk for developing breast cancer and others (like Love) because they have a significant family history of the disease.

Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast but opted to have both breasts removed in August. She is undergoing reconstructive surgery.

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