Risk-Reducing Double Mastectomies
For women who are at a high-risk of developing breast cancer due to their family history of the disease and/or a genetic mutation in the BRCA1, BRCA2 or TP53 genes. Risk-reducing (or preventative) mastectomy of both breasts (bilateral mastectomy) and removal of both ovaries (bilateral oophorectomy) is available on the NHS.
A preventative mastectomy is thought to reduce breast cancer risk in BRCA mutation carriers by 90 per cent, which would reduce a woman’s risk to lower than the average for women without a mutation in the UK. Breast cancer can still occur in the chest wall so mastectomy cannot reduce risk by 100 per cent.
Other risk-reducing strategies
An updated version of the NICE Familial Breast Cancer guideline was published June 2013. The guideline offers advice on the care of people who may be at increased risk of developing breast cancer because of a family history of breast or other cancers. This guideline recommended, for the first time, that women at an increased risk of breast cancer can be offered the chemoprevention drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene to reduce their risk of breast cancer. Chemoprevention drugs can provide an alternative to surgery for some women at high risk of breast cancer, but like any drug they have side-effects. Click here to read more about chemoprevention.
- Our blogger, Charlotte, is currently awaiting a preventative double mastectomy and speaks openly about her experiences or this treatment. Read her regular blog here.
- Find out more about what constitutes a "high-risk" of developing breast cancer on our Family History and Genetics page.
- Find out more about BRCA gene mutations on our BRCA information page.