Prophylactic surgery for women at high risk for breast cancer

Clin Breast Cancer. 2000 Jul;1(2):127-34; discussion 135. doi: 10.3816/cbc.2000.n.011.


Women at high risk for the development of breast cancer have several options open to them including increased cancer surveillance, prophylactic mastectomy and/or oophorectomy, and chemoprevention. We consider high-risk women to be those with known BRCA mutations or a strong family history characterized by multiple relatives with breast cancer, early age at diagnosis, and in some families, ovarian cancer. We present existing data regarding prophylactic surgery for these women. Essentially, a woman at high risk for breast cancer may choose to undergo bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, with or without reconstruction. For patients who have a known breast cancer, contralateral mastectomy is also an option. Finally, for women in families with a strong incidence of ovarian cancer, prophylactic oophorectomy can be considered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Genetic Testing
  • Germ-Line Mutation / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty / adverse effects
  • Mammaplasty / methods
  • Mastectomy / adverse effects
  • Mastectomy / methods*
  • Mastectomy / psychology
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / genetics
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / surgery*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery
  • Ovariectomy
  • Patient Selection
  • Pedigree
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Risk Factors