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Single or Bilateral Mastectomy


Hi! My sister has been diagnosed with HER/NEU+, PR+, ER+ breast cancer. She doesn’t have BRCA. She trying to decide between a single or a bilateral. Her doctor suggests a single but put the paperwork in for a bilateral. Are there women here who can tell me why they chose a single over a bilateral and vice versa? Thank you for your help.

Note: My 10 year just finished a 3.25yr treatment for leukemia.

  • Post #1
  • Sun Jun 10, 2018
Hi, I'm Betti

I chose a single as my other breast was and still is healthy, I felt why remove a breast that doesn’t need to be. I live alone so only had myself to care for me and would have meant a longer surgery and recovery time. I still have my yearly mammogram on my remaining breast.

  • Post #2
  • Sun Jun 10, 2018
Hi, I'm Melanie S.

That decision was a hard one for me to make. How old is your sister? Does your sister have lobular breast cancer, ductal, or something else? Did she find her cancer or was it detected on a mammogram? Was it a regular mammogram or 3-d mammogram? The reason I ask is because lobular is harder to detect. My story is not typical but I will give you a short version of it.

In Oct. 2012 I had a mammogram and it came back suspicious. I had a needle core biopsy and the results were I had two areas, pretty close together that were infiltrating lobular carcinoma. They were also ER+, PR+, and HER2-. Mastectomy is what was recommended for me. Before my mastectomy, I had a breast MRI. It showed a third place that the mammogram did not pick up nor did my surgeon feel when he did a breast exam. It turns out this third place was HER2+. I also had LCIS and DCIS. I also had cancer in the sentinel lymph node so my surgeon removed all 18 of my lymph nodes (axillary dissection.)

At the urging of my surgeon, I had a BRCA genetic testing to see if I carried the cancer gene to help me decide whether to have a double mastectomy. The test was negative so I opted to have a unilateral mastectomy.

6 months later, I had a mammogram on the remaining breast (a 3-d mammogram and the first 3-d mammogram I ever had). Turns out there was suspicious findings in there too. 6 months earlier that breast was declared, “clear” by regular mammogram and breast MRI. Was it clear at that time? Was the suspicious area missed? Was the suspicious area too small? I don’t know the answer. I had a needle core biopsy, stereotactic biopsy, and a surgical biopsy. It was LCIS but I wanted a mastectomy on that side too. Who knows if there would be something else in there that had been missed (as I had already experienced) and I did not want the chance of lymph nodes on that side being found with cancer and having to be removed. Not to mention the pain I endured from the biopsies and wire localization that I never wanted to endure again. I have lymphedema from having 18 lymph nodes removed.

About a year and a half after my first mastectomy I had bilateral, diep flap reconstruction. I am very happy with my results. Don’t know where your sister is located, but my surgeon was awesome if she wants to consider reconstruction at some point.

I know it is a difficult decision to make. Also does your sister know at this point if she has any lymph nodes involved? That would also go into my decision, but I didn’t know about the one lymph node that was cancerous until after my first mastectomy. Please feel free to ask me any questions you would like.

  • Post #3
  • Sat Jun 16, 2018
Hi, I'm Lady Diana

Thank you for sharing, I’ve been going back and forth about having both breast removed.

  • Post #4
  • Mon Jul 30, 2018

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