Double mastectomy is emotional choice for women - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Double mastectomy is emotional choice for women


Actress Angelina Jolie made headlines recently when she announced her decision to have a double mastectomy. Jolie says she has a genetic mutation that gives her a higher chance of getting breast cancer and felt the preventative measure was necessary.

Eastern Iowans say it can be a tough decision to make. Summer Meyer watched multiple relatives battle breast cancer

"I watched my mom fight a very tough battle," said Meyer. "She was very brave and strong but she never got to meet my kids, didn't get to see me graduate, get married."

The Cedar Falls woman knew she was at risk and wanted to know her options.

"After meeting with the geneticist we sat down and and it wasn't if I'm going to get cancer, it was more when," said Meyer.

She decided to have a double mastectomy to reduce her chances, an emotional choice for many women.

Julie Thompson is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner at the Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center in Cedar Rapids. It's her job to counsel men and women who may be at a high risk of hereditary cancer syndrome and ask them if they want to pursue genetic testing.

"Some people if they do genetic testing and they find that they do have a very increased risk for cancer development actually would not care to know that information," said Thompson. "There are other people who very much want to know that information.

Genetic testing isn't for everyone. Thompson recommends it for people who either have seen several family members with the same cancer diagnosis or multiple members diagnosed young.

"It's helpful before you do the testing to understand what your options are going to be," said Thompson.

For example, if a person has a high risk of breast cancer the options are increased surveillance or mastectomies. It's a personal choice from there.

For Meyer the choice was clear.

"The fact that I can go to bed at night and know that my risk for cancer is now down to five percent from 87% or even less, that is reassuring to me," said Meyer.

Experts say the hereditary cancer factor only plays into about 10 percent of cancer diagnoses. That's why genetic testing is only recommended to certain people.

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