Allyn Rose, a 24 year old contestant in the upcoming Miss America Pageant, has decided to have a prophylactic (preventative) double mastectomy in order to prevent the disease that is in her genes and killed her mother.
Allyn’s mom was only 27 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and was also found to be a carrier of the BRCA gene that drastically increases Allyn’s chance of the disease. Many other patients with the breast cancer gene have chosen to have their breast tissue removed preventatively, and then have a single-stage breast reconstruction at the same time as their mastectomy so that they can continue living a normal life without the worry of developing breast cancer.
While some think this is an extreme measure, others feel that it’s very subjective decision that each individual woman with the breast cancer gene has to make.
New York Plastic Surgeon Dr. Nicholas Vendemia says, “It’s a huge decision for a woman to decide to have a prophylactic mastectomy in the face of the BRCA gene, but it’s also a huge decision not to have the surgery. Breast cancer is one of the most deadly cancers for women, so I can certainly understand why a woman in a high risk situation may opt for peace of mind rather than constantly worrying about developing the disease. That level of worry can be quite emotionally draining after a while and definitely shouldn’t be taken for granted. That being said, surgery is a very big step that is certainly not without its own set of considerations and consequences. It’s an entirely subjective decision, but I’m happy that we have great techniques and technology to help any of these women regardless of which strategy they decide is right for them.”
In regards to Allyn’s comment that she is “choosing life over beauty”, Dr. Vendemia said, “I don’t think Allyn is 100% accurate with this statement. I’ve seen so many beautiful breast reconstructions in my own hands and in the hands of my colleagues that I don’t necessarily think anyone, including Allyn, is losing their beauty after surgery. In fact, women who are doing this preventatively have the most beautiful and most natural reconstructions because they do not have to go through chemotherapy and radiation which can significantly affect the results of reconstructive procedures in women who already have breast cancer.”
What do you think about this situation? If you had the breast cancer gene, would you rather have the surgery and peace of mind? Or would you rather wait and see if the gene actually causes a problem first and risk actually getting breast cancer?