Bi-lateral explained

A few of my friends were asking me why I am choosing to have a breast that has no present indication of cancer also removed…. it is a very easy decision once armed with sufficient information, and one that every woman in my position needs to make.

For any woman who has been diagnosed with DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ), studies indicate that DCIS in one breast increases the risk in the other.  The healthy breast is at higher risk post-breast cancer diagnosis, and in addition, that risk continues to increase by about 1% each year.

“Survival for patients with bilateral breast carcinoma is similar to that of patients with unilateral disease, however, prophylatic risk-reduction intervention for the contralateral breast should be considered in patients who have multicentric unilateral disease or a positive family history for breast carcinoma.”  In my case, I qualify on both points.  Study:

In another study, 10% of already diagnosed BC will have contralateral disease (not a long-term study: long-term could be more); literature inconsistent; Hopkins book says: 15-25%, p 122

I have dense breast tissue – that means it is more difficult for the radiologist to detect cancer.  I also have osteopina.  Taking an Aramatose Inhibitor (typically Tamoxifen or an AI is prescribed post-surgery), will deplete calcium in my bones so that osteoporosis will quickly develop.  However, that will not be necessary if a bilateral mastectomy is performed…so, the tradeoff of giving up something now that I may lose later and not impeding my health and functionality further is yet another compelling point.

If I only have a unilateral, if and when the cancer appears in the other breast, it could be more aggressive, necessitating chemo, radiation, and loss of the lymph nodes in my right arm, putting me at high risk for lympedema and a host of other issues.

This is pretty heavy stuff to ponder, and many a sleepness night.  But the right decision FOR ME is to have the bilateral.  And thus, preserve my future health to the extent possible.

I hope this helps my friends, supporters, and others in my situation understand the reasons for my decision.  As always, email or call me to chat…. and, I will let you know when the date is determined… in the meantime, make the most of each day… you truly never know what is around the corner.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Helene Jeanette
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 03:30:33

    I want to thank you for the time you take to share all this with friends and family. It truly is so appreciated. For me, it helps to understand what you confront. It also helps me to feel that in some small way, I’m holding your hand and sometimes giving it a squeeze to let you know I am here with you. Hugs & love


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