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
The guidelines on how women with a family history of breast cancer are cared for are currently under review and should be updated in 2013. The draft guidelines have proposed recommendations for the use of chemopreventive drugs for women whose family history of the disease increases their risk. Under the new guidelines women could be offered the drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene for five years. This would provide an alternative to surgery for some women.
Breast Cancer Campaign has responded to the draft version of the new guidelines.
- 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.