As you’re probably aware, October is breast cancer awareness month. In recent years there has been much talk about preventative surgery to remove the breasts (known as prophylactic mastectomy), but this something every woman should consider?

The most likely answer is no.

However, these are the reasons might consider a prophylactic mastectomy:

  • Genetic testing reveals you have a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene (these genes increase the risk of breast cancer)
  • Have a strong family history of breast cancer (breast cancer in several close relatives)
  • Had radiation therapy to the chest before age 30
  • Have (or have had) cancer in one breast

While a prophylactic mastectomy can lower the risk of getting breast cancer by 90% or more, it doesn’t guarantee that you will not get it. As with any elective surgery, the risks should be thoroughly evaluated before proceeding. If you’re concerned about your breast cancer risk, talk to your physician.

Lastly, there are things that all women can do to help lower their risk of breast cancer, such as being active, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol.