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Double Mastectomy: Right Decision for the BRCA Gene?

From the Show: HER
Summary: When Angelina Jolie announced that she had a preventative double mastectomy, the term "BRCA1 gene" became commonplace.
Air Date: 10/2/14
Duration: 10
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pamela Peeke, MD
Guest Bio: Beth DuPree, MD, FACS
Beth DuPreeBreast surgeon and author, Beth Baughman DuPree, MD, FACS, ABIHM, is Medical Director of the Breast Health Program at Holy Redeemer Health System in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, where she created an innovative treatment setting for diagnosis, treatment, and healing for women with breast disease. With a focus on prevention and embracing complementary therapies, Holy Redeemer Women's HealthCare at Southampton is the first-of-its-kind site that embraces the whole woman.

Because of her strong dedication to patients with cancer, Dr. DuPree established a non-profit organization called The Healing Consciousness Foundation in 2007. The Foundation funds holistic and wellness therapies for women and men living with a breast cancer diagnosis. In partnership with Holy Redeemer Health System, those with breast cancer can access these complementary therapies at Holy Redeemer Women's HealthCare at Southampton, PA.
Double Mastectomy: Right Decision for the BRCA Gene?
When Angelina Jolie announced that she had a preventative double mastectomy, the term "BRCA1 gene" became commonplace.

The star's surgery was a drastic decision that many people questioned, but also created the "Angelina Jolie Effect" which inspired many women to follow in her footsteps. 

More U.S. women with early stage breast cancer are opting to have both breasts removed as a precautionary measure.

However, research shows a double mastectomy provides no apparent survival advantage.

When someone is diagnosed as being a carrier of the BRCA1 or 2 mutation, they are at a 75-80 percent higher risk for developing breast cancer and 45 percent for ovarian cancer by the age of 70. 

Furthermore, there is a dirty little secret about the BRCA1 and 2 gene... you are also at a higher risk for a very vigilant form of breast cancer called triple negative breast cancer. These staggering statistics and facts resulted in the tide shifting and opting for the "risk reduction surgery." The reason it is called risk reduction surgery is because the risk is still there, it's just drastically reduced. 

There are so many factors that come into play when making this decision. If someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, but does not carry the BRCA gene, removing your opposite breast will not affect your survival rate.

Medical Director of the Breast Health Program at Holy Redeemer Health System in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, Dr. Beth DuPree helps to educate both women and men about the preventative double mastectomy.
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