STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Superstar actress Angelina Jolie recently announced that she had a double mastectomy to decrease her chances of getting breast cancer.
Angelina Jolie says after being told she had an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer, she decided to remove the tissue in both breasts to decrease her chances of getting the disease. Jolie also had reconstructive surgery. Many women are still concerned that the double mastectomy will leave them disfigured. Robyn Havard is a breast cancer survivor who elected to only have the lump removed from her breast 6 years ago.
“I don’t know that I would’ve made the same decision today and a lot of that has to do with awareness. At the time I was diagnosed, my largest fear was to have to have a mastectomy, or a double mastectomy. I think you immediately think you’re going to be disfigured and that you’re life will just never be the same,” says Havard.
Havard carries a mutated breast cancer gene and was in stage 3 when she was diagnosed. Still, she chose to have a lumpectomy, leaving her breast tissue in tact. Looking back she says, she didn’t realize what her options were.
“I think science has just come to a point as the medical community, that they are taking care a lot of those fears and a lot of those things are going away. So I don’t know that I wouldn’t make the same decision but I think I probably would’ve looked a little bit more into my options and that just comes with awareness,” says Havard.
Dr. Travis Methvin is a surgeon with the Center for Breast Health and Imaging in Starkville and performs surgeries at OCH Regional Medical Center. He says having a double mastectomy is solely the patient’s decision.
“I leave that up to the patient. There are other options, the double mastectomy is one. Increased screening is another, whether that be starting at an earlier age for performing mammograms. Whether that be going to MRI of the breasts instead of mammograms,” says Methvin.
Dr. Methvin says all women carry the breast cancer gene but the mutation is what determines who will likely develop breast cancer. He says every woman has to decide what’s best for her once diagnosed and how that decision will affect her life.
“If they can’t sleep at night and they’re going to worry about this and it’s going to affect their quality of life, then have a double mastectomy. If they do get it and we can find it small, remove it and still have a long-term survival,” says Methvin.
Dr. Methvin says women should also know that they’re at risk for ovarian cancer if they are diagnosed with a mutated breast cancer gene.
According to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, someone dies of breast cancer every 74 seconds around the world.