Woman Has Her Breasts and Uterus Removed—and She Didn't Even Have Cancer

Illustration for article titled Woman Has Her Breasts and Uterus Removed—and She Didn't Even Have Cancer

A 35-year-old woman preemptively had a hysterectomy and had her breasts removed after she tested positive for a gene strongly associated with breast and ovarian cancer.


It sounds drastic, but it's what some women with the same diagnosis choose to do; the BRCA1 gene gives women like Dana Bushman, combined with her family history of cancer, an up to 90-percent chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime and an up to 70-percent chance of ovarian cancer. Those are terrifying odds, and faced with them is likely the only time a women would voluntarily give up her breasts and fertility.

Everything about Dana Bushman's story, which she tells to Blisstree, is gasp-inducing, but one part I found particularly fascinating was the technique she chose for breast reconstruction. She didn't want implants because she's a yoga and Pilates instructor and implants could inhibit her movement. So she chose analogous tissue transfer, also known as "flap" surgery, a method that involves taking fat from another part of her body and putting it where her breasts were (the skin and nipple remain intact). They even re-attach veins and arteries from the relocated fat to the breast area.

The original doctors she consulted about the technique told her she didn't have enough fat for a successful operation. But she found an outfit in Louisiana where surgeons performed the operation with no problem, and now she sends all of her thin, BRCA-positive friends there.

Of course the best part about the story is that Bushman has drastically reduced her chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer. Listen up ladies: get tested! No one wants to go through what Bushman has, but like she says in her story, it's better than having cancer. Also, men carry the BRCA1 (and BRCA2, there are two) genes as well. Bushman found out she might be a carrier because her father was, and he pushed her to get tested. Also a note: men, though less often than women, can also get breast cancer.

[Blisstree; Image: Shutterstock/Sebastian Kaulitzki]

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I mean... we perform routine circumcision of infants for the alleged sake of decreasing the risk of AIDS and penile cancer.... which are both much less a threat, at least in industrialized nations, than breast cancer, or cervical cancer.