Prophylactic Mastectomy

Prophylactic mastectomy involves removal of a breast in order to avoid developing cancer in that breast. It may be performed in conjunction with a standard mastectomy on the other side for breast cancer, or on both sides (bilateral) for patients at high risk of developing breast cancer.

The options for prophylactic mastectomy are removal of the nipple and areola in addition to the underlying breast tissue, or removal of the breast tissue with preservation of the nipple and areola. This technique would often be performed in conjunction with breast reconstruction, and preservation of the nipple/areola complex will result in an improved cosmetic outcome.

Bilateral prophylactic mastectomy can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by 95% or more. Preservation of the nipple and areola may have an increase in risk of developing breast cancer compared with nipple/areola removal by approximately 1-2%. This risk needs to be balanced against the improved cosmetic result of preserving the nipple on an individual patient basis. With nipple preservation, small incisions around the areola can be made which will normally heal very well. When preserved, such nipples would usually completely lack sensation.

Click here for more reading: National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre Website

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