Breast Cancer Surgery

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The main aim of breast cancer surgery is to remove the cancer cells from the breast. Before taking the decision of surgery, your surgeon will discuss certain terms with you. They will examine the stage of your cancer in order to decide the appropriate type of surgery for you. The type of surgery, your doctor will recommend to you depends on the size of your breast, size of cancer cells or tumor, the extent of cancer spread and your personal wish.

Available options of breast cancer surgery:

During surgery some part of your breast may be removed (quadrantectomy), or only the lump is removed from the breast (wide local excision or lumpectomy). In many cases complete breast may be removed (mastectomy). In case of breast conserving surgery, you may also have to undergo radiotherapy. The process in which, only the cancer cells are taken away by leaving the breast tissue as healthy as possible is called as breast conserving surgery. This type of surgery comprises of quadrantectomy and lumpectomy. In breast cancer surgery, the surgeon often takes some lymph nodes from the arm pit as a part of the operation. These nodes are further examined for the confirmation of presence of cancer cells in the breast. Your practitioner will plan a suitable treatment for you.

Criteria for choosing the right breast cancer surgery:

Since no surgery or operation is performed without the permission of the patient, there are certain essential factors considering which your doctor will decide your preferable type of surgery. Your surgeon will examine the following conditions depending on which type of surgery is decided:

  • Size of cancer cells in the breast
  • Your breast size
  • The extent of spread of cancer in other body parts
  • Your personal preference

Types of breast cancer surgery:

Breast Cancer Surgery Your surgeon may discuss the available preferences of surgery before undergoing it. Some of the available options of breast cancer surgery involve:

  • Radical Mastectomy
  • Total Mastectomy
  • Lumpectomy
  • Modified Radical Mastectomy
  • Segmental or partial Quadrantectomy or Mastectomy
  • Radical Mastectomy:

    This process is also termed as Halsted mastectomy. This process is not performed on a common basis. In this procedure, all the affected breast tissues are removed from the breast. It also takes out the lymph nodes under the arms and the muscles under the breast just leaving the skin to close the dissection at the location. This procedure is not recommended necessarily for patients whose tumor does not invade the muscles.

  • Total or simple mastectomy:

    In this procedure, the lymph nodes are not removed, but the entire breast is removed by surgery. This type of mastectomy is generally used for the prevention of spread of cancer or when the cancer does not reach the lymph nodes.


Lumpectomy is also called as breast-conserving therapy. In this process, the marginal area of normal tissue or the cancerous area is removed. Another incision may be followed in order to take out the lymph nodes. Breast cancer treatment helps to give a normal appearance to the breast even after the surgery is performed. With an aim to treat the remaining cancer cells in the breast tissue, a radiation course of five- to eight-weeks is performed after the lumpectomy. Women who are in early stages of breast cancer or have a small breast cancer are considered to be the appropriate candidates for this treatment.

Women with two or more areas affected with breast cancer or who have already undergone the radiation therapy on the affected breast are not eligible for this surgery.

Modified Radical Mastectomy:

In this process, the surgeon takes out all the breast tissues along with the nipple. Lymph nodes present under the arms is also removed in this process. The chest muscles are kept as it is. Foe several patients, this process is followed by either delayed or immediate breast reconstruction. This can be performed by using the own tissues of the patient (generally tissues from lower abdomen) or the breast implants.

Segmental or Partial Quadrantectomy o r Mastectomy:

During a segmental or partial quadrantectomy or mastectomy, the surgeon removes more breast tissue as compared to the lumpectomy. The margin surrounding the normal tissues is removed along with the cancerous area of the breast. A radiation treatment is followed, six to eight months after undergoing this process.

All breast cancer surgery leaves a scar. Once you undergo this surgery keep a follow up of the state of your breast tissues on a regular basis, since they may sometimes recur at the same location or at the nearby site.

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