Single or double mastectomy.?

Hi everyone, 

Thanks for adding me in here , I am recently diagnosed with DCIS on my right breast ( extensive, intermediate grade ) . My surgery date is on 18th Nov . I feel overwhelmed with everything at the moment My surgeon said My treatment will be mastectomy on right breast and one lymph node will be taken out for further test. 
My question is should I have both mastectomy or just single?part of me want to have bilateral Mastectomy for a piece of mind  preventing cancer coming from the other side, But also  Considering I am single mum with teenage boy and one dog. full time work and really need to recover quickly , I have no family here to support. 
Any contribution would be greatly appreciated . Thanks all 🙏


  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,255
    Dear @August_tran21

    It’s always so difficult making a decision when you feel as if someone  just hit you over the head with a piece of two by four! 

    Have you any family history of breast cancer? And has there been any sentinel node biopsy? The main issue is whether you are at greater risk of breast cancer again or whether, like me, your so far unaffected breast may be no greater threat for cancer again than other parts of your body! I had a single mastectomy and lost 17 lymph nodes (only one was positive, but a whole lot looked suss!). Nine years on, so far so good. I had no
    family history of cancer, of any kind. 

    I found a single mastectomy a quick recovery as I did not have reconstruction, which is possible at a later date although I have decided against. More surgery, more reconstruction obviously adds to the recovery time. Others on this site may be very helpful in how you may be able to access financial support if you go bilateral. 

    A list of questions  to ask your surgeon may be useful at this juncture. Best wishes. 
  • Sue_w
    Sue_w Member Posts: 123
    Hi @August_tran21
    Like @Afraser, I had a single mastectomy and no reconstruction.

    Another point to consider (when weighing up a single or double mastectomy) is comfort. Are you a small or large breasted woman? Some larger breasted women find it uncomfortable to have one breast and feel 'unbalanced'.

    It's a tough choice to make, single or double mastectomy, but it's not necessarily one you have to make right now. Some women who have a single mastectomy go back later to have the other breast removed if they feel it's the right choice after they have had time to consider all the options and after the stress of treatment has lessened.

    Take what time you can to consider all sides of the question and treat yourself kindly.

    Everyone path is a little bit different on rocky road, I wish all the support and care the world can offer,
    All the best,
  • August_tran21
    August_tran21 Member Posts: 7
    Dear @Afraser
    Thanks for getting back to me. My breasts are quite small, cup B. I have thin and small body. My family has no history of cancer. Mum & grandma are healthy. I don't know why it happened to me. The decision is tough as I have to make it in very shortest time. 

  • iserbrown
    iserbrown Member Posts: 5,429
    "Surgery | Breast Cancer Network Australia"

    "Types of breast cancer"

    The above links may help give you more background  and understanding of recovery et cetera as well as an explanation of your type of breast cancer

  • August_tran21
    August_tran21 Member Posts: 7

    Dear Sue_w

    Thanks for your input. I’d consider to remove one breast  at the time. It could be best option for me in this situation. I will discuss with my surgeon this Monday, I plan to have reconstruction after mastectomy. 
    It is Rocky Road and so unexpected. I am so glad i’ve found this group. It's has been extremely helpful and informative for my lonely journey to fight back cancer. 
    Thanks again 

  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,255
    Dear @August_tran21

    Cancer, in many cases, is pure bad luck! One breast at a time sounds a good solution. I am large breasted but even so, I find a prosthesis easy and simple. Small breasted, you may have immediate reconstruction or later on. 

    Many people find a single mastectomy relatively painless. Removal of lymph nodes often causes more short term discomfort as nerve endings can be affected, but losing one should be fine. Others can advise more on reconstruction. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, there are many people here with different diagnoses and treatments, so lots of experience. Best wishes for your surgery. 
  • August_tran21
    August_tran21 Member Posts: 7

    Thanks @ Isebrown for the links 🙏😊

  • August_tran21
    August_tran21 Member Posts: 7
    Dear @Afraser
    Such a great relief to know one side mastectomy treatment is relatively pailless. Thanks for your extremely helpful information, jit helps me to make decision easier 
    Have a great afternoon 🙏❤️
  • Julez1958
    Julez1958 Member Posts: 1,027
    Hi August
    I was an E cup and initially had a reduction in the non cancer breast to a C cup and had a skin sparing mastectomy with insertion of tissue expander of the cancer breast (5.5cm lobular, not picked up on a mammogram).
    I was planning to just have the DIEP flap reconstruction in the cancer breast but then changed my mind to have a double mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction of both breasts.
    Mainly as I knew I would be consumed with anxiety for the rest of my life ( I am 63) about getting cancer in the other breast.
    My Dr said I had a 10 percent chance of cancer appearing in the other breast, many people would take those odds and deal with it if and when it happened.
    Me, I decided to go the double and be done with it.
    Its an extremely personal decision and I did look at the Reclaim your curves website as well as posts on here and talked to my GP as well as my breast cancer surgeon who said he would support whatever decision I made.
    The DIEP reconstruction surgery is a big surgery, not for the faint hearted, but 3 months on I am both relieved and happy.
    All the best with  whatever you decide.

  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,241
    edited November 2021
    Hi @August_tran21

    So sorry to see you here - to the club that no-one really wants to join!  However, here, You can raise ANY issue, and get helpful replies from those who’ve gone before you.  Nothing is off limits.  We have ‘private groups’ for some more personal discussions - eg you can join the Reconstruction group .... so feel free to join any of them, if they suit you.

    We are happy that you found us - as we were in the same boat not that long ago - and like you, many of us copped that bit of 2 x 4 to the head - coming from 100% non cancer families, me included. The members here are just wonderful and will provide you with as much support as you need.  Just ask away!

    Where abouts are you - town/area - we may have members nearby who can point you towards specific services in your area - or even meet up with you for a coffee after your surgery. You can 'add it' in your profile.

    You will 'gather' HEAPS of paperwork - bloods, reports, Xrays etc - so find yourself a BIG BOX to put them all in - cos an A4 expanding file just won't be big enough!  This way, everything is in the one place & if you need to find it later - it should be there.

    If you live in Regional/Rural areas - you will be eligible for IPTAAS assistance with travel & accomodation costs (the name may vary from state to state.) Ask your GP or Specialist about it, as they will have to sign off your first appointments.  The NSW one is here:

    If you can, take someone with you to your appointments for support - as it can be daunting sitting there alone.  A 2nd set of ears also picks up points raised that you may have missed - and ask relevant questions too (as did my Sister in Law with me.) Also, consider recording your meetings on your mobile phone - so that you can go over it again later, if you have to, to query a statement, or just to have as a record.

    We all know the absolute turmoil that comes with a BC diagnosis - those 3 words ....Your whole world is turned upside down in a millisecond, as you start to navigate unknown areas of our health system! It is almost a conveyor belt! First you do this, then this, then go there and do that, then come back here and do this .... and it may take a year or two for your life to settle back down again - but just know that it WILL. xx

    It is totally 100% ok to skip between anger, denial, sadness - but if you find the sadness is overwhelming you, please seek professional help! Your GP may be able to refer you to a psychologist ... or your local Breast Cancer Centre May have help there .... where you are more likely to find a bc specific psychologist who is more familiar with BC issues.  Just talking about it openly and sharing it with a professional should be able to give you coping mechanisms ... 

    You will make new friends who will support you (specially on this forum) and may lose some old ones, who just do not understand what you are going thru. Most of us here, have found wonderful friends within the group and have even met up with them in ‘real life’ before this Covid thing and since - hopefully  we'll be returning to the 'new normal' next year! 

    If there is anything you want to discuss in a more private manner, you can message a member (or a group of members) and chat in total privacy. 

    Personally I found that it mucked with my BRAIN more than anything else!  And that is very hard to control, as it has a mind of its own! I found that keeping BUSY, doing things is the secret . .... get back into your hobbies or take up a new one as you are able - even more so now with Covid as we can’t get together with buddies as readily as before - tho things are opening up again now ..... we hope!  

    Try & keep your sense of humour 'up there' - we have a really good 'funnies page' (called Friday Funnies, but we add them every day!!)  Just click on the link to add pics and posts ...
    If you are into arts & crafts, we have a 'Creative Corner'
     and if into your garden, a Gardening post as well!!
    And we now have a Fishing post, as that is one of my passions!

    If you have 'fur kids' - put their pic here & describe their funny antics ...

    We even have a funny Xmas page .... feel free to add any that you’ve seen!

    When you have some time ... check out this blog by a female British Breast Surgeon who went on to develop Breast Cancer, with recurrence.  She was amazed at just how much it changed her life, both mentally and physically - as she really thought she 'knew it all' from being a surgeon to her patients ... and it really validates all our own ‘aches and pains’ & fears ... if your Onc/GP doesn’t believe you when you discuss side effects etc - get THEM to read this too!

    Try not to use Dr Google too much (difficult tho it is) as there is just so much conflicting information out there (and much of it is REALLY OLD & OUT OF DATE), and every BC case is totally 'unique' and it will only scare the pants off you!

    As you haven't had your surgery yet, we have some posts here on what to take with you to hospital, to make it 'easier' on you.

    And for your annual checkups, here are some ‘tick sheets’ to help you put your questions together for your medical team.  (Make sure you click on the documents at the BOTTOM of the post, as the others are only sample pages.)

    Take care, and all the best for your upcoming surgery!  xx

  • August_tran21
    August_tran21 Member Posts: 7
    Dear Arpie 
    Thanks for taking time to get back to me. I am in Gold coast, QLD. Will have surgery at Robina public Hospital. It would be great if I could get to know some members around my area. I have been on this forum the first day when I was diagnosed and learnt a lot from other members experience 

  • August_tran21
    August_tran21 Member Posts: 7

    Dear @Julez1958
    i am truly appreciate your input from you own experiences and happy for you finally have a good results. It is a personal choice and I hope I’d make a right choice for myself. How long does it take to recover from bilateral mastectomy ( I mean possibly get back to work ) ? I also plan to have reconstruction with implants and hope I don’t need expanders as I would go smaller sizes 
  • Julez1958
    Julez1958 Member Posts: 1,027
    Regarding recovery, everyone heals differently and my own experience was not with implants ( which is a much shorter surgery and recovery time than DIEP flap surgery).
    I had to have the mastectomy then radiotherapy then wait 6 months for the reconstruction surgery but if you are going straight to implants when you have the mastectomy then that will only be one surgery.
    I had my husband at home to help me when I got out of hospital both times and I did need help .
    I had a lot of pain from the tissue expander in the first surgery and was on Endone for 6 weeks but the second surgery I only needed Panadol after hospital.
    I still took about 6 weeks to feel myself again.For example I didn’t feel comfortable driving again until 6 weeks.
    If you just have a desk job I would say you may be back to work after 4 weeks but if it’s a physical job I would factor in 6 weeks.Thays just a rough rule of thumb, you may be ready to go back earlier or you may need more time.
    But see what your medical team say.
    Do you have a Brest care nurse, they will also be able to give you advice on your situation.
  • iserbrown
    iserbrown Member Posts: 5,429
    edited November 2021