The goal of breast cancer surgery is to remove the tumor itself and a portion of surrounding normal tissue, while conserving as much of the breast as possible.
There are different types of breast cancer surgery. The types of surgery differ depending upon the amount of healthy tissue that is removed with the tumor, the tumor's characteristics, whether the tumor has spread (metastasized) and your personal feelings. Some lymph nodes under the arm are usually removed as part of the operation so they can be tested for the presence of cancer cells. This will help your doctor plan your treatment after surgery.
Types of Breast Cancer Surgery Include:
- Lumpectomy: This is also referred to as breast-conserving therapy. The surgeon removes the cancerous area and a surrounding margin of normal tissue. A second incision may be made in order to remove the lymph nodes. This treatment aims to maintain a normal breast appearance after surgery.
- Partial or segmental mastectomy or quadrantectomy: During a partial or segmental mastectomy or quadrantectomy, the surgeon removes more breast tissue than with a lumpectomy. The cancerous area and a surrounding margin of normal tissue are removed. Radiation therapy is usually given after surgery.
- Total mastectomy: With a simple or total mastectomy, the entire breast is removed, but no lymph nodes are removed. Simple mastectomy is most frequently used to prevent new cancer from developing or when the cancer does not go to the lymph nodes. This procedure is usually performed to treat in-situ, microinvasive, or stage IA breast cancers.
- Modified radical mastectomy: The surgeon removes all of the breast tissue along with the nipple in a modified radical mastectomy. Lymph nodes in the armpit are also sampled. The chest muscles are left intact. For many women, mastectomy is accompanied by either an immediate or delayed breast reconstruction. This can be done quite effectively using either breast implants or the patient's own tissue – usually from the lower abdomen.
- Radical mastectomy: When a radical mastectomy is used to treat breast cancer, the surgeon removes all of the breast tissue along with the nipple, lymph nodes in the armpit and chest wall muscles under the breast.
A specific surgical procedure may be recommended based on the size, location or type of breast cancer you have. Thoroughly discuss these surgical options with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.