A Lumpectomy May Do It
For Jeanine Whitney, the diagnosis of breast cancer last June was bad enough. But when her doctor told her that her best chance was an immediate mastectomy, "I cried for 24 hours. I felt that part of my womanhood would have been taken," says Whitney, who works at an air conditioner factory in Rushville, Ind. Her employer, American Standard Cos., had a program to provide workers with unbiased information about the risks and benefits of potential treatments. Thanks to the program, Whitney learned that there was no evidence that a mastectomy would have a better outcome than a lumpectomy, provided the tissue around the lump was clear of cancer. Twenty years after treatment, the outcomes were the same, according to studies.
"It was a total surprise," she recalls. She requested a lumpectomy, which was carried out in July, followed by seven weeks of radiation and six of recovery. Now, Whitney is grateful that she was able to get the information she needed to buck her doctor's recommendation. If Whitney had had to make a decision without that, she says she would have "ended up in the psychiatric ward."