In the wake of Angelina Jolie’s stunning revelation that she had a double mastectomy done earlier this year to prevent her from acquiring breast cancer (given that her mother died of it and, recently, her aunt), the issue of preventive mastectomy has become a topic of concern for many women the world over. To get a better understanding of the subject, we interviewed Dr. Raoul Siasoco, an obstetrician-gynecologist and acupuncturist at St. Luke’s Medical Center Quezon City.
Smart Parenting (SP): Does a preventive mastectomy really reduce the risks of breast cancer?
Dr. Raoul Siasoco (RS): It reduces the risks of breast cancer but it doesn’t eliminate them. In medicine, just like in life, there is no 100%.
SP: Can a preventive mastectomy be done here in the Philippines? Are there doctors willing to consider this?
RS: Yes, it can be done. In my first few years of practice, I’ve heard of cases that went back over ten years of people doing this. There are cases of preventive mastectomies being done here.
SP: Do the facilities for detecting breast cancer risks exist here in the Philippines? How advanced are they?
RS: Our detecting methods are at par with the rest of the western world. We have breast imaging, mammography, breast ultrasound and even nuclear imaging of the breast where they do not need to compress the breast that much.
The thing about mammography is that it irradiates the breast tissue, and that radiation can cause cancer too.
SP: It does? But isn’t that contradictory to what mammograms are for?
RS: An article in the November 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine states that 1.3 million women were overdiagnosed and overtreated for breast cancer over the last 30 years.
Now, radiologists will say that a mammogram’s radiation is just a small dose, but that’s like putting a drop of toilet water into a glass of drinking water. Would that be considered healthy for you to drink?