305. Barrington Health: Can Breast Reduction Surgery Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer?

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Conceptual Image - young woman facing breast cancer.

A breast reduction procedure is often thought of as risky, but it can be a safe and an effective operation for diminishing any pain in the neck or back caused by large breasts. This procedure not only helps get rid of neck, back or shoulder pain, it has other benefits as well, including better posture and improved quality of life. Researchers have also found that a breast reduction procedure may lower the chance of breast cancer for women by 50 percent.

While it is not true that breast size directly correlates with risk of cancer, the study found that undergoing a reduction mammoplasty, also known as breast reduction surgery, reduces the risk of cancer by removing potential risky tissue. This is attributed to lowering the risk of breast cancer, especially for women over 50.

Through the process of breast reduction surgery, surgeons will remove extra tissue and skin from the breast. While a breast reduction surgery is not generally a method a physician would prescribe to prevent cancer, it has this beneficial side-effect.

“The best way for you to find out your risk for breast cancer is to seek genetic counseling,” says Dr. Barry Rosen, breast surgeon at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill.

Genetic counseling provides a scientific assessment of a person’s risk to cancer or genetic mutations. The genetic counselor can assess a person’s risk and provide recommended courses of action.

“If you do find that you are at high risk for breast cancer, there are other surgical procedures, like nipple and skin sparing mastectomies that conserve the cosmetic appearance of the breasts,” Dr. Rosen says. “However, I would not recommend a breast reduction procedure as the best alternative for the prevention of breast cancer.”

He recommends that those who are high risk for breast cancer and are seeking surgical options look other alternatives, like mastectomies that could reduce the risk of breast cancer up to 90 percent.

About the Author

Lisa O'NeilLisa O’Neil serves as director of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington.

CLICK HERE to read the latest articles Lisa has written for Advocate Health’s Enews platform at ahchealthenews.com.

Lisa is also contributes to our Barrington Health series at 365Barrington.com focused on advice from area physicians, the latest medical news and trends toward better health in and around Barrington, Illinois.

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