I once heard a nurse tell a patient that she might want to consider having a double mastectomy. Egads! It seems the woman carried a certain gene that supposedly increases the risk of breast cancer. Also, her mother and aunt (her mother’s sister) had both been treated for breast cancer. Therefore, according to the misguided nurse, it would be a good move to cut off what might become cancerous.
This is becoming more common in an age where all of us seem to BELIEVE that there is a cure out there for all of our problems. We want to say we trust our doctors and the field of medicine. Sadly, that is naive – and probably ignorant.
Having multiple risk factors does not mean a person will “get” what they fear. If the risk of cancer is 1 in 50, there is a 49 in 50 chance it won’t happen. If there are three additional factors that raise the risk to 10 in 50, there are still 40 chances it won’t happen. Removing a breast is a guaranteed, 100% outcome – no breast. Still, the person is still at risk for cancer. The breast is an area of the body where cancers can develop – and so are the kidneys, bladder, uterus, lungs, and so on. Removing the breasts has no impact on other possible cancers.
Everything is risky. That’s what its all about. Nobody can avoid everything dangerous or harmful. During “the plague” many people got sick and died. Some didn’t even get sick. The same happens today. Some kids in the classroom get the flu and others don’t – and it isn’t always the same ones who get sick.
I am not suggesting we avoid doing anything for our health because in the end we’re all going to die. I am saying, though, that there is no need to seek out bizarre responses to reasonable risks.
Removing breasts “just in case” is bizarre and ignorant.
I also feel the same about most vaccinations, especially the ones that are supposed to protect against illnesses that may be caused by behavior and not environment. Smallpox is one thing, while HPV that might become cancer some day is something entirely different. Forcing parents to have their children vaccinated with Gardisil is bizarre, ignorant, and unethical. But that’s another rant I’ll have to remind myself to have one of these days.