Decision time.....

I wonder if anyone has any personal reflections or facts/ online links to information that might help me?

Following a WLE and SNB which had, thankfully, clear margins and clean nodes I have been offered radiotherapy (and anastrozole).  However, when I countered with could I have a mastectomy instead of the radiotherapy this was agreed this could be an option.

I am a reasonably fit 50 year old who enjoys sport (running, hiking, weights), and also worries about the risks of radiotherapy on the left side of my chest, and wants to get back to a ‘normal’ functional life asap (some of the threads suggest radioRx can take as long, or longer, to get over than a mastectomy) - the aesthetics are less of a priority for me.

I am struggling to find any resources to help me make this decision, so if there is anyone out there with personal experience (good or bad), or information they could share it would be appreciated (I would like to get on with the decision making prior to my oncology appointment, so I can then move on asap)

Had surgery chemo and now having rads and taking Letrozole

 . It is totally painless just 5 minutes after they have lined you up and not even the slightest SE so far … why would you want a mastectomy unless necessary ? 

Hi I had a single mx. No recon… I didn’t have an option but this was my original choice anyway. I found the mx was surprisngly quick and easy to recover from,  I know I was very lucky in that respect.  I’ve also had chemo and rads too and after chemo the rads were quite straight forward too… But some people suffer worse, we are all different.  In terms of getting back to physical activities I swim, walk etc… I do suffer with stiff joints and pains but think that’s the Tamoxifen.  Find out as much as you can about your options before you decide. 

Hi Brumrunner,


I am glad I found your thread…you are in a similar position to me but I had one node positive and am getting mixed messages as to whether they would do radiotherapy to whole chest o r just boob. Waiting for radiotherapy consultant to confirm as surgeon and oncologist disagree.


I w as offered choice of mastectomy with reconstruction (didn’t want to go flat) o r lumpectomy as it was in both breasts. As all biopsies came back as low grade DCIS, no further treatment than surgery needed. I had concerns about complications with implants and PMPS (post mastectomy pain syndrome) so took the road of least harm. It was also the exact time FDA in America officially acknowledged implant sickness and the link to large cell lymphoma.  I also felt reassured by yearly mamm os that picked mine up early but I couldn’t feel anything sinister. With implants no mamm o just self check and hands on check by consultant yearly. But surely a lump means it will be further along before it’s detected than a mammo? Also felt implant would impede detection of lump in chest wall but some say as implant under muscle chest wall is effectively pushed up against skin? My consultant kept saying outcomes were the same medically for either so it was a personal choice.  I didn’t even look into effects of radiotherapy or chemo as I wasn’t expecting them. Unfortunately results surprised everyone when left side was 10mm invasive and sentinel node positive. I then had full clearance 'and two week wait wondering if it had spread and facing reality of chemo and rads. I dreaded both when I realised permanent damage they can inflict. I escaped chemo as they were confident as they can be it hadn’t gone beyond  sentinel node and was really slow growing. In what seems like forever I have been waiting for radiotherapy appt I have begun to Think a mastectomy would be better as after facing the scare I have had I never want to go through this again. BN said can get recurrence after mastectomy as some breast tissue always left behind. What they never said when I asked for all info to help me decide was that mortality outcomes are the same for both but recurrence rate for lumpectomy are higher. I only found this out on an American site which uses stats…something My consultant said didn’t exist when I asked about my chances of recurrence…it was in the hands of the gods! BN said had only slightly higher chance than someone who had never had it.

It’s a swings and roundabouts choice and very personal. Check out the website but verify the reasons for your choice with your medical team. I got the website from a book written by two doctors, one a breast surgeon who also went through breast cancer ‘All you need to know about Breast Cancer’ by Liz O’Riordan (she also has online cancer blog) and Trish Greenhalgh.

Good luck making your choice and would be interesting to know what you decide and what your medical team think. I have been very close to asking the same thing but positive node may mean either way I would get radiotherapy so no escaping it :slight_smile:

Hi Brumrunner,

I’m 55. I had six weeks of radiotherapy seven years ago after a lumpectomy. The process itself was okay, apart from an emotional meltdown in week five. Subsequent check-ups confirmed that everything was fine, and that my skin/ tissue had responded exceedingly well (I had a good homeopath, may that helped… )

However, after a couple of years, the skin on one side of my breast had become ugly, and my breast has shrivelled a bit, there’s no other word. This (see my recent posts) is presumably the reason why I now can’t have an implant reconstruction (I have a new tumour and am due to have a mastectomy soon).

Still, I can’t say I would have been easily persuaded seven years ago to have my breast removed instead of radio.

Hope this helps with your process.