Benefits of Prophylactic Mastectomy

Sometimes women remove a healthy breast as a preventative strategy so that they don’t have to worry about getting breast cancer. This is called a prophylactic mastectomy. Learn more about the benefits of prophylactic mastectomy in the video.

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Jay K. Harness, MD: When we use the term ‘prophylactic’ in talking about breast, we are talking about a prophylactic mastectomy, in other words, the removal of a healthy breast. Why in the world would we ever want to do that? Well, part of this is driven now by patient choice. There are patients who say, “Gee, I have had a cancer on one side and I have had a mastectomy on that side. I never want to deal with this again. I simply want the other breast off.”

Another example of the use of prophylactic mastectomy, or plural mastectomy (meaning both breasts), would be in somebody who is gene-positive, who know that their chance of getting a breast cancer is 80%, and this is a preemptive strike, if you will, to prevent ever getting breast cancer.

In that sort of circumstances, prophylactic mastectomy is prior to ever having a breast cancer and lowers the gene-positive patient’s chance of dying from breast cancer by a little greater than 95%. There’s no mastectomy on the planet that can remove 100% of all breast tissue, but greater than 99% is removed with a mastectomy – prophylactic or not.

Dr. Jay K. Harness is a board certified surgeon currently treating patients at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, CA. Dr. Harness specializes in complete breast health, breast cancer surgery, oncoplastic reconstruction, genetic screening, management of breast health issues, risk assessment and counseling. Dr. Harness is the medical director for Breast Cancer, and guides this first ever social media show’s information by drawing on his former leadership experience as the President of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and Breast Surgery International. Dr. Harness graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1969 and spent time early on in his career at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk.  If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.