Cancer fear drives woman to have breasts removed

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The Independent Online
A HEALTHY woman with no history of breast cancer in her family is planning to have both her breasts removed to ensure she has no risk of succumbing to the disease.

Liz King, from Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, has pencilled in an appointment at a private hospital in Newcastle for the double mastectomy, which will cost her pounds 3,500. However, the British Medical Association warned that any surgeon who carried out the operation could be in breach of his ethical duty.

It is believed to be the first time a woman with no extra risk factors for breast cancer has opted for the radical preventive treatment. A handful of women with a strong family history of the disease and who are carriers of the BrCa1 gene for breast cancer have had the surgery in the past. Women who carry the BrCa1 gene have an 80 per cent chance of developing breast cancer during their lifetime compared with less than 9 per cent for the average woman.

Mrs King, a former medical laboratory scientist, said: "A close colleague of mine died of breast cancer at the age of 40 five years ago and it hit me hard. As a woman, I have a 1-in-12 chance of contracting it and because I have no children I am at a higher risk. I can see that to many women this would not be an option, but for me it is the sensible thing to do."

Mrs King added: "I think the operation should be available on the NHS. If I got cancer my treatment would cost thousands."