Hannah Fitzpatrick contacted us after becoming the youngest woman in Britain to have a double mastectomy as a preventative operation.

The 19-year-old took the brave decision after seeing several of her family members suffer from breast cancer.

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19-year-old has double mastectomy to beat family cancer curse


For most women, it would be an agonising decision, worthy of months of heart-searching and consultation. But 19-year-old Hannah Fitzpatrick was never in any doubt.

Last autumn, she became the youngest woman in Britain to have a double mastectomy in a preventative operation to beat the scourge of breast cancer which has haunted her family.

Now she believes she can look with optimism to a healthy future.

Genetic screening had revealed that she carried the faulty BRCA 2 gene, which meant she had an 85 per cent chance of developing the condition.

It followed the diagnosis of two of her cousins with breast cancer, both in their early twenties  -  an unusually young age. Both were subsequently found to have the same faulty gene.

Yesterday Miss Fitzpatrick, now 20 and a nursing student, told how two aunts had also been struck by the disease, with one terminally ill.

She said: 'The fact that my cousins got the disease so young, plus one of my aunties being terminally ill, really focused my mind. It made the decision for me, really.

'I know that I am only young, but I would have spent years worrying about falling ill, especially if I ever found a lump.

'Now I can look forward to the future without worrying about it. I have no more chance of developing the disease in future than any other woman.'

The chance of a woman developing breast cancer in her lifetime is one in nine, according to Cancer Research UK.

The cancer history in Miss Fitzpatrick's family stems from her father Michael's side. Mr Fitzpatrick, 49, a Labour councillor, is one of three brothers who along with three of their four sisters all carry the faulty BRCA 2 gene.

Of those sisters, one was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 37 five years ago and is now terminally ill. A second was diagnosed a year ago in her late forties and is receiving treatment.

Miss Fitzpatrick's cousins, daughters of one of her uncles, were diagnosed with breast
cancer just months apart two years ago.

Both are now in remission and have also had double mastectomies to try to prevent the disease from returning. 

Miss Fitzpatrick, who lives with her mother Karen, 47, a healthcare assistant, in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, gave a blood sample which was screened for the faulty gene two years ago after her cousins were diagnosed.

She had the 11-hour double mastectomy operation at Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham last October.

During the reconstructive part of the surgery, she took the opportunity to increase her bust size from a 34B to 36C.

'I thought I might as well take the chance to make them bigger,' she said.

She has since had another three operations on her breasts, and doctors are monitoring the situation.

She said her parents, who are separated, and boyfriend Martyn Croft had all supported her decision.

Mr Croft, a 23-year-old forklift truck driver, said: 'I think Hannah has been amazing. She has stayed really strong throughout everything.'

Breast cancer is now the most common cancer in the UK, with around 45,000 cases diagnosed each year.

About 100,000 British women are believed to carry dangerous versions of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes. They can currently decide between a lifetime of regular monitoring or a pre-emptive mastectomy.

The previous youngest woman to have a preventative double mastectomy is believed to be Derbyshire radio DJ Becky Measures, who had the operation three years ago at the age of 24.

At least 14 women in her family had died over the generations.

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