A modified radical mastectomy involves removing the entire breast, including the skin, areola and nipple, as well as most of the lymph nodes in the armpit area. This type of procedure has become a standard surgical treatment for early-stage breast cancers.
Modified radical mastectomy is especially helpful for early-stage breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. Studies show that a modified radical mastectomy is much less invasive and just as effective as radical mastectomy. Modified radical mastectomy spares one or both of the chest muscles, preventing a hollow in the chest that is common after a traditional radical mastectomy.
A modified radical mastectomy (without reconstruction) generally takes two to four hours and involves a one-night hospital stay. A single incision across half the chest usually allows the surgeon to remove the breast and the lymph nodes.