Cutting Out Breast Cancer: What is 'nipple sparing mastectomy?'

The procedure is called the "nipple sparing mastectomy," and involves removing breast tissue and replacing it with an implant, leaving the skin and nipple in place. (6/24/13)

BRIARCLIFF MANOR - News 12 Westchester is taking a look at a technique that helps high-risk women greatly lower their chances of getting breast cancer.

The procedure is called the "nipple sparing mastectomy" and involves removing breast tissue and replacing it with an implant, leaving the skin and nipple in place.

Andrea Ziltzer, of Briarcliff Manor, was at high risk for breast cancer and underwent the procedure after she tested positive for the BRCA 2 gene mutation. BRCA 1 and 2 stands for "breast cancer susceptibility gene" and acts as a tumor suppressor when normally developed.

MORE: Cutting Out Breast Cancer

In the early 1990s, it was discovered the mutations in those genes can greatly increase a woman's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Dr. Andrew Ashikari, a surgical oncologist, is the son of Dr. Roy Ashikari, one of the pioneers of the procedure. Ashikari says the procedure, combined with new techniques and equipment, have shown positive results.

"The results speak for themselves," Ashikari said. "We don't really see recurrences and the nipple is one of the those areas where it's unusual to see those recurrences."

Doctors caution that BRCA 1 and 2 gene mutations are very rare. Estimates say that the mutations only account for about 5 percent of breast cancer cases.

News 12 was told that, unless a person has a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, your doctor probably won't recommend undergoing expensive genetic testing.  

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