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Cancer is a beast and there aren’t too many ways to be an advanced stage of the disease, but a new study says that preemptive removal of breasts or ovaries can drastically reduce the risk of contracting cancer and dying. I say it’s a good idea.The message here is not that any and every woman should remove her breasts and ovaries. The goal, I feel, is to make those women who are at-risk for cancer (for example, those with a history of cancer in their family) aware that there is something that they can do to reduce the risk of dying from cancer.

While researchers were already confident that such prophylactic surgeries reduce the risk of cancer, the new study which was reported this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the largest investigation to date, the first to show survival benefit, and the first to differentiate the benefits based on which gene a woman has and whether or not she has already had cancer. Reportedly, a woman’s risk of cancer can be reduced even if she has already been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Here are the numbers: Removal of the ovaries and ovarian tubes in women with two of the common breast cancer genes can almost completely eliminate the risk of ovarian cancer and reduce the risk of breast cancer by about two-thirds, the study found. Removal of breasts can reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 85%. Either procedure reduces the risk of dying by at least two-thirds.

It should be noted that men can get breast cancer to0–as well as prostate cancer–so the study applies to men as well.

“We already knew intuitively that removing breasts reduces the risk of breast cancer, but this is the first paper that actually shows it contributes to a survival benefit,” said Dr. Jane Kakkis to the Los Angeles Times.  Kakkis is surgical director at Memorial Care Breast Center at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and was not involved in the study. “That’s a big difference in terms of helping patients make a difficult decision.”

Some well-known breast cancer survivors include: journalist Robin Roberts, retired WNBA player Edna Campbell, former Senator Edward Brooke, actress Ruby Dee and actress Diahann Carroll.

How man survivors do you know?

While surgery and removing your breasts and/or ovaries is a major life-altering decision, wouldn’t you rather be a survivor than not be a survivor?

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