A WOMAN'S CHOICE: New Options in Breast Cancer by Mary Spletter

A WOMAN'S CHOICE: New Options in Breast Cancer

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A good, general update on breast cancer treatment--with the most detailed information on breast reconstruction available. Spletter had a mastectomy at age 25, in 1972; five years later (after being married), she had a successful reconstruction. Her aim isn't to persuade others to try--simply to provide the information on mastectomy and reconstruction that she had difficulty in obtaining. Determining risk is an ongoing problem: studies show that 58 percent of women substantially overestimate their risk, 32 percent greatly underestimate it, and only ten percent make a realistic assessment. So Spletter sets out the information readers need to accurately judge their own situation (one step in reducing risk is not to be overweight). On diagnostic testing, she notes that the use of mammography is still being hotly debated; meanwhile newer techniques, not involving x-rays, are being developed. As for treatment, the US is still far more conservative--in its reliance on radical surgery--than Canada or Europe; nonetheless new approaches--lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation combinations--have begun to gain acceptance. But it is in the area of breast reconstruction after mastectomy that Spletter's real news lies; here, new surgical methods--which she clearly describes--have changed the whole outlook for success. Everything, however, depends on where and by whom the operation is done (as her own experience, and that of other women cited, demonstrates). The only way to proceed is fully apprised, slowly, and carefully. The Indispensable Cancer Handbook (1981, p. 1280), by Kathryn Salsbury and Eleanor Liebman Johnson, lives up to its title for background information and basic advice on treatment. But Spletter can be relied on for friendly support, as well as valuable supplementary coverage.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1982
Publisher: Beacon