The 411 on Mastectomies

Read more about this breast removing surgery.

Angelina Jolie Double Mastectomy Sparks National Debate - This past May, Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie admitted to the New York Times that she had both of her breasts removed because she was genetically predisposed to breast and ovarian cancer because of the gene flaw, BRCA1. Instantly, her admission caused a national debate, with some calling her a hero and others criticizing her for promoting an unnecessary surgery. (Photo:Amel Emric/ AP Photo)

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Celebrity Mastectomies - Academy Award-winning actress Angeline Jolie announced that she had undergone a double mastectomy a few months ago because she was at high risk for breast cancer. She isn’t alone. In 2011, comedian Wanda Sykes publicly announced that after finding breast cancer at an early stage, she had the procedure, too. Read more about mastectomies on —Kellee Terrell (Photo: AP Photo/Amel Emric, file)


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What Is a Mastectomy? - It’s a surgery that removes all of the fatty tissue from the breast as a way to treat breast cancer. For some women, removing the whole breast gives them a sense of relief and provides a greater peace of mind about reducing the risk of their cancer coming back. (Photo: Ron Chapple/Getty Images)

Tony Hansberry Jr.  - Whiz kid Tony Hansberry Jr., 18, was a student at Darnell Cookman School of Medical Arts when he developed a technique that reduces the surgical time for hysterectomies. Hansberry’s method proved to be three times faster than the traditional method. In 2009, Hansberry, age 15 at the time, demonstrated his technique to a large assembly of doctors and surgeons as part of the University of Florida’s medical education week. (Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

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What Happens to Your Breasts? - Receiving this procedure means that you permanently lose your breasts. But the good news is that, if you choose to, you can have reconstructive surgery performed later on. (Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

NAACP Presents “Fight Like a Girl” Program - To promote breast cancer awareness among African-American women, the NAACP’s Young Adult Committee will host on May 4 “Fight Like a Girl,” an all-day event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The event will boast local female boxers, film screenings, educational panels and a gala, wrote the Milwaukee Courier. All proceeds will help Black breast cancer organization Sisters Network Milwaukee.  (Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/REUTERS )

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Is Chemotherapy Needed If You Have a Mastectomy? - Not always. After a mastectomy, some radiation therapy may still be needed, but not every patient is prescribed chemotherapy — especially if the cancer is diagnosed early and it has not spread.  (Photo: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier)

FDA Approves Genetic Test for Cervical Cancer - Over the years, pap smears have been the first step in detecting cervical cancer, but that is about to change. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved that a genetic test be the first option for doctors to detect cervical cancer in women, the Associated Press reported. Critics believe this move may cost more and lead to overtreatment. (Photo: Times-Picayune /Landov)

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Who Receives This Procedure? - According to Mayo Clinic, a mastectomy is most commonly performed for the following: Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), Stages 1 and 2 (early-stage) breast cancer, Stage 3 (locally advanced) breast cancer and inflammatory breast cancer (more likely in Black women). Also, docs may recommend a mastectomy if you have two or more tumors in separate areas of the breast, you’ve had a lumpectomy but the cancer is still present, and for women who are pregnant.  (Photo: Times-Picayune /Landov)

Get Help - If someone has said something to you about wanting to kill themselves or you are noticing a lot of signs, DO NOT sit idly by. Call a doctor, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or try to convince your loved one to go to the hospital immediately and seek help.   (Photo: Izabela Habur/Getty Images)

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Why Have a Mastectomy If You Don’t Have Breast Cancer? - While Sykes was actually diagnosed with breast cancer, Jolie was not. But in her case, and the cases of many other women like her who are genetically predisposed to cancer, a mastectomy is used as a preventative measure. Jolie told the Times that she tested positive for the gene BRCA1. Jolie’s mother died of ovarian cancer. (Photo: Izabela Habur/Getty Images)

Study: Most Cancers Are Just 'Bad Luck' - An eye-opening report suggests that 75 percent of cancers are just random forms of bad luck, as opposed to being a direct result of lifestyle and diet. Looking at 31 cancer types, 22 of them were caused by cellular mutations that could not be prevented. They cite plain old genetics as the culprit, Time wrote. Photo: SCIENCE SOURCE/Getty Images) 

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What’s BRCA1 and BRCA2? - BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes known as tumor suppressors. But sometimes these genes are mutated and those who inherit these defective genes from their parents are more at risk for developing a range of cancers. In women, these mutated genes can increase our risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.  (Photo: SCIENCE SOURCE/Getty Images)


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BRCA Genes and Black Women - According to, on average, African-American women have about the same risk of having an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene as white women. But we are less likely to receive genetic testing for it. We are also more likely to die from the disease and more likely to have an aggressive form of the cancer as well. (Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)