BRCA1 & BRCA2: Is a Preventive Mastectomy for Me?

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that naturally produce tumor suppressor proteins that help repair damaged DNA. These genes play an important role in stabilizing each cell’s genetic material. When either gene is mutated (altered), DNA damage may not be repaired properly which can increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers.

What to do if you’ve tested positive for BRCA1 or BRCA2

It’s natural to feel worried if you’ve tested positive for the BRCA gene mutation. However, many women who carry the mutation never develop breast cancer. Those who do will likely overcome the disease with early diagnosis and treatment. Here are two ways you can effectively manage your BRCA gene mutation:

  • Early detection plan
    Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation will likely need more frequent breast cancer screenings starting at a younger age. They may also need different types of screenings like ultrasound or MRI scans. Talk to your doctor to find out which screenings are right for you and how often you’ll need them.
  • Preventive surgery
    Some women with high-risk BRCA mutations may choose to undergo preventative surgery to lower their risk of developing breast cancer. A preventive double mastectomy is the surgical removal of both breasts before cancer has a chance to develop and/or spread.

Is a preventive mastectomy right for you?

According to the National Cancer Institute, only women who are at a very high risk of breast cancer should consider preventive mastectomy. If you’ve tested positive for the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 gene mutation and have a family history of breast cancer, you care considered high risk. A preventive, or prophylactic, mastectomy can significantly reduce your chances of developing breast cancer. Here are additional high risk factors for women:

  • Previous cancer in one breast and high risk of developing cancer in the opposite breast
  • History of lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) plus a family history of breast cancer
  • History of radiation to the chest before age 30

Preventive mastectomy should only be considered after a woman completes all appropriate genetic and psychological counseling to fully understand the psychological impacts of the procedure.

If you’d like to learn more about the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, screenings or preventive mastectomy, call Alpha Med Physicians Group at 708-342-1900. We provide compassionate care to women considering all of their health care options and treat breast cancerusing today’s most advanced treatment options.