Does Breast Reduction Reduce Cancer Risk?

does breast reduction reduce cancer risk

If you’ve been watching the news in the last few years, you will know that there is a lot of discussion around breast cancer, genetic screening, and prophylactic mastectomies to reduce a woman’s lifetime risk of developing the disease.

There has also been some discussion about getting breast reduction surgery as a means of reducing cancer risk. So, does breast reduction reduce cancer risk? The answer is not perfectly clear. Let’s explore.

What Determines Breast Cancer Risk?

Like all cancers, there’s no specific set of traits that will guarantee you will or won’t develop breast cancer in your lifetime. But there are some things we know that increase your risk of developing breast cancer in the future.

Increased breast cancer risk can come from:

  • Being positive for gene mutations that are linked to a high risk of developing breast cancer
    • BRCA1/2 are the most well-known but other mutations in the PALB2, TP53, CHEK2, ATM, BRIP1, RAD51C, and RAD51D genes are also associated with an elevated breast cancer risk
  • Having a previous breast cancer diagnosis
  • Having multiple female relatives who have developed breast cancer
  • Previously having radiation therapy to the chest

If these factors describe you, understand that it’s not a guarantee you will develop breast cancer; it just means you have a higher lifetime risk. The good news is, with technological, scientific, and surgical advances, there are ways to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer or catching it before it can reach more advanced stages.

Does Breast Reduction Reduce Cancer Risk?

The idea behind breast reductions reducing breast cancer risk is two-fold.

  1. Less breast tissue means there’s less tissue that could become cancerous.
  2. Less dense tissue means screening tools like ultrasounds and mammograms will be more effective so you can detect any cancerous lesions in the early stages.

So, while breast reduction surgery may not directly reduce breast cancer risk, it can potentially improve breast health by allowing more productive breast self-examination, imaging, and early detection of abnormalities.

While breast reduction surgery is not considered a preventive measure for breast cancer, it can provide multiple benefits to your health and wellness.

How a Breast Reduction Can Improve Your Life

Prevent chronic pain in your neck and shoulders from having heavy breasts

Eliminate certain skin conditions associated with large breasts

Reduce shoulder grooving caused by the weight of large breasts pulling on your bra

If you think a breast reduction could improve your quality of life, regardless of whether it reduces your breast cancer risk, reach out to a plastic surgeon today.

What Are My Other Options to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk?

If you are at higher risk for developing breast cancer, your two main options are monitoring or preventive surgery like a prophylactic mastectomy. Deciding between these two options can feel overwhelming. It’s essential to consult with experts who can make sure you have all the information you need to make the decision that is for you.

Before deciding on increased screening and surveillance appointments or a prophylactic mastectomy, you should consider the pros and cons of each.

Monitoring

Surgery

Clinical breast exams, mammograms, ultrasounds, and breast MRIs 

Surgical removal of one or both breasts and surrounding tissues

Pros

Cons

Pros

Cons

  • Non-invasive

  • Preserves breast tissue

  • Surgery is always an option later

  • Risk of missed cancer

  • Ongoing anxiety 

  • Potential for more aggressive treatment needed if cancer is detected

  • Significant risk reduction

  • Peace of mind

  • Potential for reconstruction

  • Almost no post-procedure regret

  • Surgery and recovery

  • Loss of breasts

  • Still a small risk of developing breast cancer

If you are considering a prophylactic mastectomy, a plastic surgeon can help you evaluate all the different treatment options available. You can then make a fully informed decision and get the best outcomes for both your physical health and your mental well-being.

An expert plastic surgeon can provide many additional benefits for both breast reduction and prophylactic mastectomy surgeries, including:

prophylactic mastectomy surgeries

Interested in Reducing Your Breast Cancer Risks? Call Harris Plastic Surgery

If you are worried about developing breast cancer and are asking, “Does breast reduction reduce cancer risk?” you have a range of options beyond breast reduction to put your mind at ease — from screening to surgery. Consulting early with a plastic surgeon can give you peace of mind and expert coordination of your medical care.

Harris Plastic Surgery - Your Breast Reduction Experts

If you are trying to answer the question, “Does breast reduction reduce cancer risk?” we can help you decide on the best course of action to maintain or improve your health.

Contact us online or by phone/text message if you have questions or are ready to schedule your consultation. (You can also follow us on Instagram!)

Stephen U. Harris, MD FACS

Dr. Stephen U. Harris is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon and recognized expert in breast reduction and reconstruction surgeries, having performed thousands in his career. When it comes to patient care, his philosophy is that every surgery should improve his patient’s overall quality of life, not just their appearance. Dr. Harris stays up-to-date on all the latest advancements in breast augmentation, reconstruction, and reduction and is a recognized innovator in the field. In fact, he was the first surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital to offer primary prepectoral implant breast reconstruction, as well as secondary prepectoral revision surgery.

Dr. Harris also serves as Chief of Plastic Surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York and is an active staff surgeon (and former Chief of Plastic Surgery) at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, New York.

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