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What is preventive mastectomy and why it is essential for some women

mammography screening test

Preventive mastectomy is a type of surgery recommended only for some women: let's see the causes, how long it lasts and what the post-operative period is like.

An important intervention, not only from a physical but also a psychological point of view, preventive mastectomy is only recommended for some women who have certain genetic mutations. Let's see the causes of this operation, how long it lasts and what it entails.

Preventive mastectomy: what it is and when it is needed

Preventive or prophylactic mastectomy is the removal of the two mammary glands in a still healthy woman who could be at risk of developing breast cancer. Obviously, it is an operation that is taken into consideration only in the presence of specific genetic mutations and after evaluating the entire clinical picture of each individual patient. Generally, the doctor takes into account the age, the degree of risk of getting the disease, the expected benefits, the psychological impact and the potential side effects of the mastectomy.

The genetic mutations that are examined before opting for an intervention of this type involve the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. When they are present, it means that the patient could develop breast or ovarian tube cancer or other types of cancer ( pancreatic , prostate andmelanoma ). It should be emphasized that this is not a certainty, but a probability . This is why, before undergoing a preventive mastectomy, the patient is evaluated by a team of professionals (senologist, plastic surgeon, psycho-oncologist and geneticist) and left completely free to choose whether or not to accept the operation .

How long does mastectomy surgery take?

According to recent studies, mastectomy reduces the risk of getting breast cancer by at least 90% . This is why even some famous people, such as the top model Bianca Balti and the actress Angelina Jolie , have agreed to undergo breast removal surgery.

An operation of this type takes about two to three hours, even more if a breast reconstruction is planned. It is performed under general anesthesia and the patient must stay in the hospital for a few days. Recovery includes medication for pain and other side effects such as nausea , rest with no overexertion, and some rehabilitation exercises.

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