Breast cancer incidence continues to increase in the United States, with more than 130,000 new cases and 42,000 deaths expected this year. Today, one in every ten women in the United States will develop breast cancer at sometime during their lives. Breast cancer can be prevented by early prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, ie, removal of the breasts before any signs or symptoms develop. This practice was advocated by a male gynecologist colleague of mine. When I expressed horror at his suggestion that I have such a procedure at age 32, he challenged me to defend myself against advocating a practice that would save hundreds of thousands of women from developing breast cancer. At the time, my only response was to ask whether all men should have early (about age 30) prophylactic prostatectomies to prevent cancer of the prostate. Now, after many years of mulling over the problem of breast cancer, I am still unsure of the appropriate strategy with regard to breast cancer-for myself and others. There is no acceptable way to prevent breast cancer, but the related morbidity and mortality can be reduced by early diagnosis. Screening mammography is at present the best method for early diagnosis, but at what age and how frequently is unclear.
Obstetrics and Gynecology | Women's Health
Copyright American Medical Women’s Association used with permission
Have you had your mammogram, doctor?.
Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 43