HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Forrest General Hospital oncologist Dr. Mike Cheng said he is seeing more of his breast cancer patients choosing to have a bilateral mastectomy upon diagnosis, however, he encourages patients to consider their options.
"If you see them, it's mutilating," he said. "You have breasts, and the next day it's a scar. That's not necessary."
Cheng suggests a lumpectomy instead.
"In the early 80s, studies have shown that lumpectomy and radiation is just as good as the mastectomy, so we've been pushing for breast conservation," said Cheng.
Cheng said the full removal of breasts reduces the chance of the cancer returning to six or seven percent. Yet, the lumpectomy, which removes the tumor only, is about the same at seven or eight percent, according to Cheng.
Those statistics are why he encourages a lumpectomy as a treatment option, in addition to the physical differences your body goes through with a mastectomy, which also effects some patients psychologically.
Cheng said many patients who have a family history of breast cancer feel a double mastectomy is the best answer, especially with the recent procedure by Angelina Jolie, yet he said only five percent of breast cancer is genetic.
"A lot of women are scared they'll get breast cancer in the opposite breast, but statistically, that's very low," he explained. "Synchronous breast cancer... is only about two to three percent."
Cheng said the best precaution to breast cancer is a healthy lifestyle. He suggested a low-fat diet that includes no more than one alcoholic drink per day. And if a patient is considering a mastectomy, Cheng said always seek more than one medical opinion.
"It's easy to take it off, but you can't replace it," he said.