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Is a mastectomy the best surgery for breast cancer?

A new study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has shown that 1 in 5 women who opt for breast conservation surgery, opposed to a mastectomy, after a breast cancer diagnosis will have to have further surgery. Of the 45,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in England in 2008, 58% had breast conserving surgery (where only part of the breast is removed) rather than a mastectomy where the whole breast is removed.

The 1 in 5 figure may come as a shock to many of our breast cancer travel insurance customers but it must be put in context. The 1 in 5 figure for reoperation may seem high but it also shows that 80% of breast conservation surgery is successful. For the research, the first to look at breast conserving surgery reoperation rates, they looked at data collected from the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data base on 55,297 women with breast cancer who underwent breast conserving surgery in the NHS between 2005 and 2008.

What is clear from this research is that women should be made aware of the potential drawbacks from the different types of surgery they are offered so they can make an informed decision. What may be right for you may not be right for someone else. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I had a 5 month old baby and he was 11 months old when I had to decide on the surgery I was going to have. I decided to have a mastectomy and reconstruction over breast conservation surgery because I wanted the surgery over with and did not want 2 lots of recovery time where I would be unable to lift my baby should I require a reoperation. I was given all the information I needed to make an informed decision that fitted in with my lifestyle, but my decision would not be right for everyone.

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