Facing a Preventive Mastectomy
- As snger Morgan Wade, 28, prepares for new music, she’s also preparing to have a double mastectomy (removal of both breasts) to reduce her risk of getting breast cancer.
- Wade has a higher risk of developing breast cancer because she has an inherited BRCA gene mutation.
- BRCA is comprised of two genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which work as tumor suppressors. When either of these genes is altered, damaged DNA cannot be repaired properly, leading to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
- There are several different genetic tests available to find out if you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
- A double mastectomy is a procedure to remove both breasts, and it can be an emotional and overwhelming situation for a woman to deal with.
- When looking for a surgeon to perform a procedure to treat your breast cancer, you should consider their experience and how much you trust them.
Just as country music singer Morgan Wade, 28, prepares to release her second album, she’s also preparing for one of the most significant procedures a woman can face: a preventive mastectomy (removal of both breasts). Wade has a higher genetic risk of getting breast cancer, so she’s having the big procedure to lower that risk.
And, like many women who face this obstacle, she’s understandably worried about how the recovery will slow her down.
My new album, Psychopath, is available 8.25. Until then, I hope you enjoy the title track, it’s out today! Listen now and pre-order/save/add the album wherever you please — digital and vinyl are both available: https://t.co/lDuAG7JFuW ❤️ pic.twitter.com/6Gc137j5wrRead More— Morgan Wade (@themorganwade) May 19, 2023 Wade released her debut album, “Reckless,” in 2021. Known for her commanding yet raspy voice, the young artist was nominated for the Academy of Country Music Awards for 2023. Seemingly on top of the world, Wade is preparing to release her second album, “Psychopath” in August.
Ahead of her mastectomy in the fall, she plans to be “going really hard up until November,” Wade told Page Six entertainment magazine during an interview.
The country music artist underwent testing for the BRCA gene mutation, which increases a person’s risk for breast cancer. The tests revealed she has the mutation and now she’s preparing to take time off in November and December for surgery and recovery.
A double mastectomy involves removing both breasts. The procedure may also be performed as a preventative measure for women who are at a very high risk of developing breast cancer.
“I’m feeling fine, I’m just pissed I won’t be able to work out because I really like working out…That’s my only qualm about it,” the singer added, clearly illustrating how much exercise and daily routine mean to her.
Having your breasts removed can be an overwhelming and emotional experience. So it’s completely understandable that Wade, and so many women like her preparing for a mastectomy, are worried about how the procedure and recovery will change their lives.
I had the awesome opportunity to film Psychopath as part of the @Vevo Originals series while in NYC recently. Thanks for having me, y’all! Watch the performance here: https://t.co/i5J1bK0VN4 pic.twitter.com/AsaqmAVzaK
— Morgan Wade (@themorganwade) May 22, 2023
The BRCA mutation is inherited, and Morgan said her mom also carries it.
What Is the BRCA Gene Mutation?
BRCA is comprised of two genes: BRCA1 and BRCA2. Both BRCA1 and BRCA2 contain proteins that work as tumor suppressors.
They help repair damaged DNA and are important for ensuring the stability of each cell’s genetic material.
When either of these genes is altered, that mutation can mean its protein product does not function properly. The end result of a nonfunctioning protein means damaged DNA may not be repaired correctly.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers.
There are several different genetic tests available to find out if you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. Hereditary genetic testing is usually done with a blood or saliva test.
If you discover that you do have a mutation, there are options available to manage your cancer risk, which include:
- Enhanced screenings
- Prophylactic (risk-reducing) surgery, which involves removing as much of the “at-risk” tissue as possible
- Chemoprevention, or the use of medicines to reduce the risk of cancer.
WATCH: What is a BRCA mutation?
What to Consider When Weighing Preventive Mastectomy?
A prophylactic, or preventative, mastectomy is an operation where the breast tissue is removed to prevent cancer from developing in the future.
“Risk-reducing mastectomies are an operation where we take women at, usually, very high-risk for getting breast cancer … for genetic mutation carriers, who are the ones at the highest risk, there’s unfortunately only one way to actually prevent breast cancer,” Dr. Elisa Port, Chief of Breast Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System, tells SurvivorNet.
Expert Mastectomy Resources
“Women who are found to test positive for a genetic mutation really have two options,” Dr. Port explains. “One is what’s called high-risk surveillance, which means we check them every six months or so — mammograms, MRIs — with the hope that if, God forbid, they develop breast cancer, we pick it up early. But that’s not prevention, that’s early detection.
“Early detection is a goal, it’s not a guarantee. For the woman who wants to be more proactive about actually preventing breast cancer, or as we say reducing her risk, unfortunately, the only way to do that is to remove the actual tissue at risk and that is the breast tissue,” she adds.
Some women decide to have their breasts reconstructed and have implants put in right after the mastectomy, while others don’t have reconstruction at all.
The benefits of a prophylactic or preventative surgery are:
- Significant reduction in cancer risk (from 80-90% to 1-2%)
- Nipples can often be spared
- Women can get reconstruction at the same time
How to Choose the Right Surgeon?
Surgical procedures such as a double mastectomy can be an emotional part of a woman’s breast cancer journey. For such a heavy part of the process, choosing the right surgeon is extremely important.
SurvivorNet doctors say women should trust their gut when choosing a surgeon.
“You shouldn’t just ask surgeons how many operations they’ve performed because volume is not necessarily the best indicator of the right surgeon for you. On the other hand, you don’t want a surgeon who is inexperienced,” urologic oncologist Dr. Jay Shah said.
Above all, Dr. Shah says people faced with a choice of surgeons should go with someone they feel they can trust.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you’re facing the option of having a mastectomy, here are some questions to consider asking your doctor:
- What can I do to prepare for a double mastectomy?
- What happens before and after the procedure?
- For reconstruction, what are the benefits of using implants over my own tissue and vice versa?
- What should I know about implants should I opt for preventative surgery?
- What will recovery look like after the procedure?
- What are the benefits of a watch & wait approach vs. preventative surgery?
- What kind of surveillance is required after the surgery?
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