Is A Mastectomy The Right Choice For All Women?

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK (WLNY) – Everyone from health care workers to Hollywood brass are praising Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy to decrease her risk of developing breast cancer.

Photos: Angelina Jolie Through The Years

The drastic decision is one that may have women wondering if it’s the right choice for them.

Lisa Frank was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, at the age of 36. She joined us on The Couch, alongside Dr. Lynn Ratner, to talk about her story — and whether a mastectomy is the choice for every woman.

Lisa underwent her first treatments after her stage I cancer diagnosis.

“I had a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation and thought, all done. Everything’s great,” she said.

Then in 2004, Lisa was diagnosed with a recurrence, stage-II breast cancer.

“I had a local recurrence, and I made the personal decision to have the double mastectomy, even though it was only the single breast,” she said.

After more chemotherapy and radiation, Lisa was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in November 2011.

“My breast cancer had spread. It went to my parotid gland…and it went to my spine.”

At the end of October this year, Lisa found out it the cancer had spread to her brain and cervical spine. She spent all of November undergoing brain radiation.

“Most women are cured after they have their surgery,” said Dr. Ratner. “But Lisa’s journey is not unusual.”

After Jolie’s operation, the costs of the tests for the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 gene are a hot topic.

As Dr. Ratner explains, the test costs about $3,000 and insurance should pay for it — if the women fits the picture of somebody with the faulty gene.

“In other words, they have to have a first order relative who has breast cancer or ovarian cancer, and generally we take a history spanning three generations,” Dr. Ratner said.