What to do - Lumpectomy or Mastectomy - history of breast infections


I have just been diagnosed with early breast cancer stage 1 which I know if you are going to get it is a good one. However since then I have had to have 2 more biopsies one with ultrasound and one with an MRI - results of which I will get tomorrow. My decision might therefore be made for me if the results are not good.

However I seem to be a unusual case as i have had years and years and  probably about 20 breast infections over that time with periductal ecstacia. I used to have to have antibiotics to treat it and then I got very good at dealing with it with highlevels of  vit C and zinc and rest. Early on I did have an operation to clean out and remove some milk ducts and they found some cell changes but not cancer. They said I did not need to be monitored or anything.

Now I am wondering are they connected. Do I want to have the worry of the infections as it was because of the infection that they stumbled across the cancer while having the ultra sound. I have never heard of anyone else being in my position. Is there anyone else out there ? So confused. 

Jane xxx

Hi Jane

I’m sorry you’re faced with this dilemma. You are right to acknowledge that the further tests might uncover more details but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It will help you make an informed decision once you get the information. Remember, they may find nothing.

Lumpectomy or mastectomy is very much a personal choice, depending on how important your breasts are to you, so no one can tell you what to do. It does seem to me though that, reading your post, it’s almost like you know what direction you’re heading in. You won’t be forced to make a decision there and then unless they have uncovered seriously aggressive breast cancer. In these cases, the consultant generally ‘knows’ before confirmation from tests and indicates what s/he suspects may be happening (in my experience).

If you are encouraged to have a full mastectomy, the option of a reconstruction will be there too. It’s all very much a personal choice. Me? I just wanted the whole thing removed as soon as the words ’ breast cancer’ were uttered, but it was academic in the end as I had to have a full mastectomy and axillary clearance (removal of the lymph nodes). I just knew that, left with a partial breast, I’d be obsessing over lumps and bumps! But that’s me. You are used to years of breast problems and may have a different perspective.

Wait till your consultation. Meantime, write down your questions so you can tick them off and not come away wishing you’d mentioned something you forgot at the time. Include the question about connection with your breast history. If it’s allowed, have someone in with you who can take notes because sometimes in consultations, you realise your brain has turned to mush. Stay away from Google - it really is not helpful since it’s full of outdated sources, full of irrelevant stuff that exacerbates anxiety and generally leaves people regretting what that’ve done. Once read, rarely forgotten!

I hope the results tomorrow are clear, leaving you with your original question - lumpectomy or mastectomy? If they aren’t, remember there are many different kinds of breast cancer and many different treatment routes, and it’s all manageable (despite the horrible public image campaigners give of breast cancer - forget that!). Take care

Jan x