For many women, the prospect of breast surgery is upsetting. However, a decision to undergo breast surgery does not necessarily mean that a woman will lose her breast. Major progress has been made in reconstructive surgeries, so that 85 percent of patients can undergo a procedure which will preserve the appearance of their breast(s). Women with invasive breast cancers have also had proven success in breast preservation.
The surgeries most often performed when there is a diagnosis of breast cancer are:
Partial mastectomy is the most common form of breast cancer surgery. Your surgeon will remove only the part of your breast containing the tumor, and some of the normal tissue that surrounds it.
All of the removed tissue will be carefully examined by our pathologists, to verify that the margins (the normal tissue surrounding the tumor) are cancer-free. Although you will have already discussed your treatment plan with your doctor, the course of treatment may change, depending on the results of your surgery.
Any form of surgery that removes only part of the breast is considered "breast-conserving" or "breast preservation" surgery. You may hear your surgeon use any one of several names to describe your procedure: biopsy, lumpectomy or partial mastectomy.
Technically, a lumpectomy is a partial mastectomy, because part of the breast is removed. However, the amount of tissue removed can vary greatly. Discuss with your surgeon the plans for your surgery and reconstruction, so that you have a clear understanding of all your options.
What can I expect?
How should I prepare?
Your breast surgeon and nurse care coordinator will give you specific instructions about preparing for surgery. These will likely include:
Mastectomy is the surgical removal of the entire breast, usually to treat serious breast disease.
The most common reason for performing a mastectomy is breast cancer. Mastectomy is an alternative to breast conservation surgery.
Deciding which type of surgery is best for you is complex and involves many factors. When you are diagnosed, you and your medical team will discuss your medical circumstances, personal needs and preferences. Important issues you and your team will consider include: the size of the tumor in relation to the size of your breast, whether there is more than one tumor in your breast and the side effects of radiation therapy.
There are four general types of mastectomy:
What can I expect?
What can I expect afterwards?
Mastectomy is very safe surgery, and most patients recover well with no complications. As with any surgery, however, there are risks. Complications are possible, but please keep in mind that they are very unlikely. You should discuss every aspect of the surgery and its aftermath with your doctors and nurse care coordinator. The more information that you have before the surgery, the more comfortable you will feel.
You may want to know the following about breast reconstruction:
Each case is different, and you should discuss all of your options carefully with your surgeon and any other treating physicians. Once you have all the information, you will feel prepared to make the best decision.