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April 16 , 2010

Prophylactic Mastectomy: Insights from Women who Chose to Reduce Their Risk


Author Andrea Farkas Patenaude, a clinical psychologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has spent much time talking with women who decided to have risk-reducing or prophylactic mastectomy rather than undergo a lifetime of repeated screenings—a strategy that can help to detect cancers early, but cannot prevent breast cancer. In Prophylactic Mastectomy: Insights from Women Who Chose to Reduce Their Risk, Patenaude shares many candid stories from these women and documents the risks and benefits of this decision.

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The potential emotional trauma and lifelong effects on self-concept, body image, and sexual function for those who choose the surgery are profound. While the risks involved are great, these interviews also demonstrate the relief many women find in making this powerful decision. This book supplies much-needed guidance for both patients and physicians in confronting this complex decision, and provides comprehensive information on how women fare emotionally and interpersonally after this life-altering surgery.

Interviewed as part of a study funded by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and the National Human Genome Research Institute, the subjects are diverse: married and single women, young adults, the middle-aged, parents, and women without children. Every case reveals the ramifications of each individual's difficult but potentially life-saving decision. The women explain why they made their choice, how they adapted to the new look of their bodies, and how they cope with spouses', partners', and family members' reactions to their changed physique.

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