Fear from cancer

One not uncommon indication for prophylactic mastectomy is carcinophobia (a.k.a. cancerophobia).

Cancerophobia or carcinophobia is an active behavior of extreme fear of cancer that can lead to repeated medical examination without giving full reassurance to the patient. Denial is a mechanism of defense that usually helps the patient to cope with painful, threatening, overwhelming, or awkward thoughts. When it turns out to be ineffective and pathological, it can cause either delay or avoidance in seeking treatment for symptoms relevant for a true malignancy and will lead inexorably to death if not cured. Most people worry about cancer, but those with cancerophobia are unable to perform their activities of daily living.

For example, cancerophobics believe that a simple headache is a symptom of brain cancer/tumor or dysphagia is a symptom of gastric cancer.  This patients need psychological intervention.

In a female patient cancerophobia with a strong family history of breast cancer and a benign tumor in her breast and if psychological intervention doesn’t help her and she still over-anxious, prophylactic mastectomy is indicated.