As Women Seek Preventative Breast Cancer Surgery, Hospitals Move to Combine Procedures

By David Breen
Orlando Sentinel

Actress Angelina Jolie made headlines in 2012 when she announced that she’d undergone a double mastectomy after genetic testing revealed she had a heightened risk for breast cancer.

Her highly publicized decision led many women to follow suit in getting tested for mutations in genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 that can mean a sharply increased chance of getting breast or ovarian cancer.

Some of those who test positive go so far as to have their ovaries as well as their breasts removed as a preventive measure.

Now surgeons at Florida Hospital Celebration Health have joined others throughout the country by offering what had been separate surgeries — mastectomy and breast reconstruction, and removal of the ovaries — in a single session.

Dr. Olga Ivanov, medical director of the hospital’s Breast Health Center, estimated she’s taken part in about two dozen of the combo procedures in the past two years.

First, the patient’s gynecologist removes the ovaries laparoscopically, then Ivanov performs the mastectomy.

Finally, a plastic surgeon does phase one of reconstruction.

The second and final phase of reconstruction requires a subsequent visit, Ivanov said.

Among Ivanov’s patients is Rachel Eversole, 37, of St. Cloud. She decided to get genetic testing because her mother had had ovarian cancer, and the results were not encouraging.

“I had an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer in my lifetime,” the mother of two said she learned in the summer of 2012, a few months after Jolie’s revelation.

She decided on surgery, which she underwent in April of 2013.

“The hysterectomy part was an absolute breeze, but the mastectomy, there was some recovery with that,” Eversole said, estimating that it took about four to six weeks to feel that she was back to normal.

While there’s a wide range in recovery time, that’s about average, Ivanov said.

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