• Pros & Cons of Unilateral v. Bilateral

    Asked by Ydnar2xer on Sunday, May 19, 2013

    Pros & Cons of Unilateral v. Bilateral

    It was easy for me to choose bilateral mastectomy as this was my second cancer, but I'm interested in hearing from ladies who have had to make that choice. Why did you choose what you chose? What are some of the pros and cons you have learned about unilateral v. bilateral?

    12 Answers from the Community

    12 answers
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I chose bilateral because I wanted to be aggressive against this evil and elusive enemy. Furthermore, I did not want to face additional surgery in the future. Also, I had heard of a lady who had made a last minute decision to go bi-lateral and her pathology report revealed that there was undetected cancer in the other breast as well. I did not have reconstruction and I am perfectly happy with my situation. I love going braless which I do most of the time. I wear my prosthesis when I have to. With a unilateral, I would not have the freedom of this choice as I would be a true picture of being "lopsided". I am happy with my choice. However, everyone is different and each person has to make the choice that is best for them.

      over 3 years ago
    • DianaL's Avatar

      Hi, I and my great husband decided on the bilateral after talking with my medical oncologist. My surgeon had recommended a unilateral. My medical oncologist asked if we wanted to ever go through this uncertainty again. I had had a lumpectomy that came back with two positive sentinel nodes and a second cancer that did not show up on the mammo or ultrasound. At 65 I never wanted to go through this or put my family through this again! I started reconstruction in February and am totally happy with our decision!

      over 3 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      i'm quite similar to jennymiller... in addition, i had very dense breasts... and bumpy breasts. i wanted to reduce my chances of a local recurrence by not having much tissue in which a local recurrence could occur! and, i'm just peachy with being flat. like JM says, going braless is divine... i don't wear foobs and only occasionally feel a bit self conscious about my very flat chest... but that's pretty rare.... happy with our decision.

      over 3 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      OH - last comment - i also wanted to avoid rads. i had a very good chance of not needing rads if i went with the mastectomy rather than lumpectomy. that turned out to be the case. i'm an athlete, and i wanted to avoid complications due to lung damage etc... from the rads. i realize these things are minimized these days, but i wanted the minimum of minima!

      over 3 years ago
    • raven's Avatar

      I was determined, against my doctors advice, to go for a bilateral. I have had two back injuries (neck and lower back) on my noneffected side. I was concerned that the imbalance would aggravate them. I also did not want to have another surgery, ever! However, only days before surgery, my surgeon told me that he had done bilaterals on patients that developed an infection on the noncancerous side, which delayed radiation, which may have effected their outcome. That made sense to me in terms of minimizing potential risks and focusing on treating the cancer (aggressive inflammatory breast). I went with the unilateral. Months later my radiologist told me that, whlie she has no data or studies backing this up, she has had three patients with inflammatory breast cancer on one side, that had bilateral mastectomies, then quickly developed cancer in the noneffected chest wall. It is her opinion that the cancer migrated thru the skin to the open wound. So then I was even more glad that I had gone the way I did, although I would have appreciated that opinion while I was making the decision. I have not had reconstruction and seldom wear prosthesis. I also have not had back pain from the previous injuries.

      over 3 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar

      I made the choice for a BL mastectomy because they found two clusters in my left breast from an MRI that the mammogram did not pick up. I didn't want to take the chance of the cancer coming back so I made to the choice to remove all worry. When I saw myself for the 1st time I cried like a baby. It just is not a pleasant site to see yourself differently than you have been all your life so be prepared for that emotion. So much goes through your mind like "Did I make the right decision" "How am I going to feel after the operation and both my breasts are gone?" Don't second guess yourself. Make your decision based upon what you want to go through and whether or not you think there might be a chance of the cancer coming back. I did. And now I have another decision to make. My gyn compared me to Angelina Jolie because I have the same risks as she does. So if you want to know you chances of developing cancer again see if you can get your doctor to refer you to a genetic counselor so they can make the decision on whether or not you need to have the BARCA test done and then to get your insurance company to pay for it. It is an expensive test and most insurance companies don't want to pay for it, but it is a necessary test for people like you and me. Especially if you are or have had a BL mastectomy. Good luck with your decision making and remember it's your life and no one else's so you make the decision for yourself not them.

      over 3 years ago
    • Julie99's Avatar

      I originally had the option of lumpectomy or mastectomy for the lump I found on my right breast. After my BRCA results came back BRCA-2 positive, no thought was needed for a bilateral. With a very high risk of a 2nd cancer, I want to minimize my risk as much as possible. I don't want to have to go through this again.

      over 3 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      When I was Dx, and was seeing the BS, both my DH and I had a list of questions for the surgeon....I never got to ask the question about a bilat as both surgeons I interviewed suggested/recommended that I consider a bilat, so my decision was made....for me it was a good decision as the prophy side came back precancerous,,,had I not done the bilat, I would have had a new primary somewhere done the road.....I wanted to be as aggressive as possible in my Tx and do everything I could to eliminate the beast coming back....other than the bilat, the rest of the Tx I had were prescribed....7 years later, I am still happy with my decision to do the bilat....for me there were no cons to do a bilat, only pros.....

      over 3 years ago
    • SusanK's Avatar

      I, too, opted for the bi-lateral, even though my tumor was fairly small. I didn't want to go through the emotional turmoil of the other breast being affected in the future. My cancer turned out to be triple negative, very aggressive, so after learning that, I never had a second thought. Doing the mastectomy and chemo allowed me to avoid radiation. My plastic surgeon started immediate reconstruction with tissue expanders, and thankfully, I experienced no complications. I count myself very lucky, over all.

      over 3 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      I chose bilateral because of my family history of cancer. I also didn't want to go through it all over again if I had a recurrence. My insurance paid for it and I figured that it would be easier to handle as a young adult. If my cancer were to come back later in life I may not have been able to handle the surgery and treatment as well. It was hard enough at this age.

      over 3 years ago
    • mrsstevie's Avatar

      I had biopsies on both breasts and only one came back with cancer. So had lumpectomy and unilateral mastectomy followed by chemo and additional herceptin. There are many times I wish I had had BL as I absolutely hate the "big" prosthesis and now just wear a very light beaded one which doesn't really "even" me out; but again it really doesn't bother me that much. Nothing was mentioned about a BL and with all the confusion etc. I never asked. So just hoping the other breast does not get affected.

      over 3 years ago
    • jvbaseballmom2's Avatar

      I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy, when told by my doctor that I had to have one breast removed. I am a worrier and didn't want to live with the constant fear that it would go to my other breast, and would I catch it in time. At the time of diagnosis, my son was 9 years old, and I wanted to do whatever I could to give me a better chance of seeing him grow up. That was 8 years ago, and I have never regretted my decision, or second guessed it. Best of luck to you.

      over 3 years ago

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