BALTIMORE (WJZ) — October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A campaign is dedicated to raising awareness for the disease through education.
Tracey Leong has a message from health experts.
In recent years, double mastectomies have become increasingly popular in treating breast cancer—but are they even necessary? New research suggests there may be better options.
Actress Angelina Jolie made headlines last year for sharing the story of her double mastectomy.
“I feel great. I feel wonderful and I am very grateful for all the support. It has meant a lot to me,” Jolie said.
The mother of six made the decision after discovering she carries the gene BRCA1 and had an 87% chance of getting breast cancer. By removing both breasts, her risk went down to five percent. She served as an inspiration for many.
“I’ve been very happy to see the discussion about women’s health expanded and that means the world to me,” Jolie said.
However, Dr. Diana Griffiths with Saint Agnes says a double mastectomy is not always the best answer.
“She was a very unique situation and there are other women with that situation but not a vast majority,” Griffiths said.
One in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer—and 85% of them have no family history of the disease.
In recent years, the option for a double mastectomy has become increasingly popular but research shows it doesn’t boost the survival rate or prevent them from getting breast cancer in the future.
Other procedures, including breast-conserving surgery with radiation, may be a better option, depending on their situation.
“We want women to make decisions based on facts and to do it rationally as opposed to emotionally,” Griffiths said. “Maybe not always the best long-term decision for themselves.”
Dr. Griffiths doesn’t discourage double mastectomies but wants women to know there are less invasive options and to do their research before making a decision.
About five to ten percent of breast cancers can be linked to gene mutations inherited from a parent.
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