Mammography “IF” Fear #23: Does Cancer Mean Losing a Breast?

Mammography “IF” Fear #23: Does Cancer Mean Losing a Breast?

Many women face their annual screening mammogram with a world of fears based on the word “if.” What IF they find something? What will happen IF it’s cancer? What would happen to me then? Will I lose my breast?


This condition of living in the “if” zone can be so worrisome that some women would rather not have their mammogram than face the questions. However, because early detection saves lives, that mammogram can produce an amazing IF: IF they find cancer at its earliest stage, there’s a 93% chance of a cure! This means not putting off this important exam is one of the best things you can do. And remember, the vast majority of women who have a mammogram have a perfectly normal, you-look-great-see-you-next-year result.


One of the IF concerns we hear from women is the fear that a diagnosis of breast cancer will mean losing her breast to mastectomy. The reality is that IF you have cancer, there are many treatment options, and you WON’T necessarily lose your breast(s). It wasn’t always the case, and some of our mothers and grandmothers who faced the diagnosis had limited options for treatment.


Simply put, a diagnosis of breast cancer no longer automatically means the removal of a breast. A combination of lumpectomy (removal of a portion of breast tissue including the cancer)  and radiation therapy are treatment options for some breast cancers, based on stage and other factors. This is called breast conserving therapy, and it’s real. Studies have shown equal success in treating breast cancer with breast conservation as compared to mastectomy for many women.


Today we’ve focused on addressing the fear of losing your breast if cancer is found. We hope this eased your mind, so you’ll have fewer fears to face down, and fewer excuses to avoid a potentially life-saving mammogram. (For more on fears and mammography, here are five fears you can nix right now.)


So now you have one fewer thing to fear. Don’t let fear of what might happen prevent you from getting the care you need.




Originally published 9/19/13 on