The news-feed featured a young, beautiful woman in a strapless gown. Miss America contestant Allyn Rose had announced that she will undergo a double mastectomy after the 2013 pageant. The pageant queen’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27 and claimed her life after a re-occurrence of the disease at 50 years of age. Rose is currently disease-free and is undergoing this procedure for prophylactic reasons.
More disturbing than the headlines labeling this story as a “beauty undergoing a dramatic physical transformation” are the loose cannons in comments - that Rose is uninformed and mislead by her doctors; that breast cancer – a disease that has been documented as far back as 1600 BC - can be prevented simply by large doses of iodine or daily servings of broccoli juice – that if Rose is concerned about the genetic course of breast cancer in her family, she should consider sterilization. The personal voice to Rose’s platform of preventative health is being lost in the din of ignorance. A time when there could be understanding about genetics and the possible final days of pro-active health decisions doctor and patient are being lost.
Dr Mangus Westgren, Director of OB-Gyn at the Karolsinka Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, is offering a solution to save lives and gain data that could lead to more informed choices.
Tumors which originate in the cells of the fallopian tubes account for 75% of all ovarian cancer and 90% of ovarian cancer deaths. Dr Westgren proposes bilateral salpingectomy, removal of the fallopian tubes, as a method of reducing the incidence of ovarian cancer. Women would be informed of the availability of BSE to be completed during cesarean sections as a preventative to ovarian cancer while seeking a permanent method of birth control. Data for reductions in diagnosis over a 15 year period versus occurrence in the general population would be gathered to determine if the significant reduction of risk would lead doctors to counsel their patients on the option of BSE as an ovarian cancer preventative for all women.
While some bodies discourage screening for the general population, and unreliable screening methods exist for those the high-risk pool, we are thankful for cancer warriors like Dr Westgren who see the need to take action for prevention. Methods and measures that might look drastic to some are informed, educated, life-saving choices to others.