Mastectomies are not an option for those over 65???!!!

Posted by sandyjr @sandyjr, Jan 22, 2021

A friend of mine has had breast cancer twice…DCIS and IDC….both breasts….as I have. She told me that she had suggested mastectomy to her surgeon the second time and that doctor, her oncologist and her gynecologist told her that it is not done for ladies over 65. They do not do it. She is a young 75 and certainly could handle such surgery. I am 70 and last year I had a bilateral mastectomy with diep flap reconstruction. The first surgeon I went to had no problem doing the surgery, but said that I was too old for diep reconstruction, I would have to get implants. I did not like that surgeon and would never have used her….she was rude and crude saying “another nipple in the bucket” over and over when discussing mastectomy. I was disgusted and angry. I did not know where to turn, so made an appointment with a plastic surgeon that had given a lecture on breast cancer reconstruction. Luckily I had attended the lecture and decided to make an appointment with him. He had shown pictures of women that had had surgery and reconstruction into their 80s. That was the best thing I ever did. After meeting me and hearing my story…two breast cancers and genetic mutation and horror appointment with the crude surgeon, he told me that I could not have nipple sparing surgery because of the radiation I had had, but that I could have the diep flap and he recommended a different surgeon. He has been the best thing that has happened to me since my breast cancer experience began. He is kind, totally explains everything, listens to everything you have to say and tells you what to expect. From the get go, he told me he could not make me look perfect, but he also said he does not take cases unless he knows he will be successful. This man truly has given me hope and my wish is that everyone be lucky enough to find a doctor like him. I am nearly through the process as it takes a while to complete and I am delighted with my new breasts. So, can someone tell me if/why mastectomies are not done for older ladies. That certainly was not the case for me. My suggestion is…do your research, decide what you want and do not go by what the first doctor tells you. I got 50% of what I wanted….no on the nipple sparing mastectomy (but I did have skin sparing), but yes on using my own tissue for reconstruction…no implants. I thought the surgery was remarkably easy…very little pain…getting back up to speed took about 3 weeks (its a 10 hour surgery and you have to be very careful how you move so as not to disrupt the microsurgery done to move the tissue from the belly to the chest). He has given me hope.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Breast Cancer Support Group.

I am 73 and have Early stage IDC and the surgeon discussed both options with me, making it clear that is was my decision. I chose lumpectomy. He concurred it was a good option for me but I was under no pressure to chose that over mastectomy.

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I’m headed toward double mastectomy in June and I’m 64. It’s really my best and only choice.

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@auntieoakley

Here is an age related funny thing to add to the stories you girls have. I was in my 30s when I was diagnosed. I really wanted a bilateral mastectomy, no reconstruction. I ride horses and the thing I love most has always been painful, so this was a no brainer for me, especially since they were doing a complete hysterectomy ovaries included, I would not need them. My surgeon said they will not do mastectomies anymore especially with younger women, this was during that period when they first figured out lumpectomies were “better”. So I got the insanely disfiguring breast conserving surgery that left me with less than half of one, and a deep scar in the other. I have since lobbied several times for removal since I still ride those horses. The answer is always no, so now I have this amazing contraption that keeps them absolutely motionless, yippee. After all of that, the nice lady at the lingerie shop saved me.

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I also was refused. .. and ended up with two mishapen still very heavy breasts. They need to be clearer on why they wont do it. They never offer any information, you always have to dig, which was difficult because I had never dealt with cancer before.

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@jeaniebean

I also was refused. .. and ended up with two mishapen still very heavy breasts. They need to be clearer on why they wont do it. They never offer any information, you always have to dig, which was difficult because I had never dealt with cancer before.

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I am sorry you have the same issue. I don’t understand why so many doctors can’t understand that what we want, should at least be considered. I am so glad we found Mayo and a network of local Mayo trained doctors now. It is comforting to know we now get included in the decision making. I hope you have found ways to deal with this, an independent women’s lingerie shop is a miracle to people like us.

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Reading the above posts reminds me that you have to be your own advocate. Yes – a cancer diagnosis is overwhelming and there is a lot to get up to speed with. BUT it is worth every minute to keep asking questions and keep chipping away. It is also helpful take good notes and to have a “buddy” (spouse, relative, friend) who hears what you do and knows what is important to you. Lazy uncaring doctors should not be tolerated. Honest docs who lay out to their patients pluses/minuses can sometimes deliver news we don’t want to hear but you’ll know you will be making an informed decision in partnership with them.

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What is your surgeon's name?

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I’m happy that you questioned the treatments available & were successful in getting the results you wanted! One of the most important things I’ve found through this “journey” is that you MUST be your own advocate! Do the research on your diagnosis, available doctors, new trial results & treatments for your diagnosis. Ask questions especially if you don’t feel what your being told is correct. Go with your instincts. Doctors operate on the “standard” of care meaning they treat all cases the same for each specific diagnosis. I found it’s helpful to make a list of questions that come up during your research,before your appointment & take it with you so you don’t forget to ask anything. If what you’re told by one doctor doesn’t feel right then get a 2nd or 3rd opinion. Just like the rest of life, some doctors are good & some are not.

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@auntieoakley

I am sorry you have the same issue. I don’t understand why so many doctors can’t understand that what we want, should at least be considered. I am so glad we found Mayo and a network of local Mayo trained doctors now. It is comforting to know we now get included in the decision making. I hope you have found ways to deal with this, an independent women’s lingerie shop is a miracle to people like us.

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Chris, This is Nancy Clark. Could I ask you where the closest Mayo trained Docter is to Sequim, WA. Seattle is 2 hours away by ferry. I had masectomy with HR+ or HER2 and decided to not take any meds as I am 87, and take no other meds. I am now wondering if I made the wrong or right decision. Having my second onocology doc
appointment Dec. 21,22 finally, and the last doc barely read or answered my question list. It is a tiring 4 hour trip by bus and ferry for me since I don't drive to Seattle. Any ideas? Thanks

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@oahu

Chris, This is Nancy Clark. Could I ask you where the closest Mayo trained Docter is to Sequim, WA. Seattle is 2 hours away by ferry. I had masectomy with HR+ or HER2 and decided to not take any meds as I am 87, and take no other meds. I am now wondering if I made the wrong or right decision. Having my second onocology doc
appointment Dec. 21,22 finally, and the last doc barely read or answered my question list. It is a tiring 4 hour trip by bus and ferry for me since I don't drive to Seattle. Any ideas? Thanks

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I wish I could answer your question, but we just got lucky and there was a doctor about 3 hours from us that had just left Mayo at the time when my husband had a stem cell transplant at Mayo Rochester. He has since moved a little closer and has sent us to other Mayo trained doctors in our area. We certainly are grateful as they are all just really amazing doctors. If you look up the local oncology center, they will sometimes have bio information on the doctors. I would look into a more local clinic, and ask around about doctors if people felt comfortable with them or not and why.
I don’t think it is a bad decision to choose quality of life. Especially if you are at a low risk for recurrence. I think we all have to make a cost vs benefit decision about treatments.
Have you looked into any oncologist offices closer to you?

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@auntieoakley

I wish I could answer your question, but we just got lucky and there was a doctor about 3 hours from us that had just left Mayo at the time when my husband had a stem cell transplant at Mayo Rochester. He has since moved a little closer and has sent us to other Mayo trained doctors in our area. We certainly are grateful as they are all just really amazing doctors. If you look up the local oncology center, they will sometimes have bio information on the doctors. I would look into a more local clinic, and ask around about doctors if people felt comfortable with them or not and why.
I don’t think it is a bad decision to choose quality of life. Especially if you are at a low risk for recurrence. I think we all have to make a cost vs benefit decision about treatments.
Have you looked into any oncologist offices closer to you?

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There are three onocologist in our town of 6,000 with many retireees.I did not like the first Docter I saw right sfter operation Mar 9,22. Others I spoke to loved him. Second visit with his nurse assistant, she did read my question s but sort of fluffed them off. See new Docter Dec. 21 and I hope he can answer some of my questions . Thank you for your input.

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