Podcast: Making Prophylactic Surgery Decisions

On this episode of Cancer Bytes, our CEO and President of My Gene Counsel, Ellen Matloff, sits down with one of her first patients, Ellen P., and reflects on the impact of genetic testing.

Ellen P. was faced with making a prophylactic surgery decision before BRCA testing was available. In 1996 she meet with Ellen Matloff for genetic counseling. Although she had no personal history of cancer, she had a strong family history of multiple relatives with breast and/or ovarian cancer. She shares how hard it was to lose her mother while in grammar school and to witness her aunt diagnosed with breast cancer. Later in life, Ellen P. was faced with a decision: whether or not to have prophylactic bilateral mastectomies, without knowing if she carried the mutation that appeared to be running through the family. This surgery was believed to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, although we had no data to prove this at the time.

People’s opinions and thoughts regarding preventative mastectomies were not as open-minded or educated as they are today. Ellen P. offers advice on going through genetic counseling and shares her thoughts on her decision to have genetic testing when it became available years after her surgeries. 

Listen to or download the full story here