In her clinical experience, Litton has seen many high-risk women, particularly those who test positive for the BRCA 1 or 2 mutation, that initially opt for intensive screening, but after several mammograms, MRIs and biopsies, eventually decide to have a prophylactic mastectomy.
"For clinicians, this study shows that when we're counseling women about prophylactic mastectomies, we need to not just talk about the surgery, but understand their lifestyles," said Litton. "When the worry of developing cancer is interfering with a patient's day-to-day activities, then their quality of life is impacted. These women with a high risk of developing breast cancer may find that despite the surgery and subsequent recuperation, a prophylactic mastectomy improves their quality of life."
Women at highest risk need to ask themselves some very important, personal questions that only they have the answers to, said Litton.
"When making such a personal decision, these women at highest risk need to ask themselves about how they feel about their breast as far as their body image, sexuality, relationship with and support of their partner, as well as their concern for breast cancer. If that worry comes in the way of their day-to-day activities, it should be taken into consideration as part of the patient's decision-making process."
Litton cautioned that the results should not be generalized for the majority of the breast cancer population. Additionally, high risk women, of course, should also be counseled on the risk associated with surgery.
As a follow up to this study, Litton plans to conduct a study with high-risk women of child-bearing age pre- and post-ge
|Contact: Laura Sussman|
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center