Breast Surgery/Care

Lumpectomy removes only the breast lump and a surrounding margin of normal tissue. If examination of the tissue removed by lumpectomy finds there is cancer at the edge of the piece of tissue removed (margin), the surgeon may need to remove additional tissue. This operation is called a re-excision. Radiation therapy is usually given at some time after a lumpectomy. If there is to be chemotherapy, the radiation is usually delayed until the chemotherapy is no longer being given.

Partial or segmental mastectomy or quadrantectomy removes more breast tissue than a lumpectomy (up to one-quarter of the breast). Radiation therapy is usually given after surgery.

Side effects of these operations include temporary swelling and tenderness and hardness due to scar tissue that forms in the surgical site.

For most women with stage I or II breast cancer, breast conservation therapy (lumpectomy and radiation therapy) is as effective as mastectomy. Survival rates of women treated with these 2 approaches are the same. However, breast conservation therapy is not an option for all women with breast cancer

Mastectomy: In a simple or total mastectomy the surgeon removes the entire breast, including the nipple, but does not remove underarm lymph nodes or muscle tissue from beneath the breast. This operation is sometimes used to treat stage 0 breast cancers.

Modified radical mastectomy involves the removal of the entire breast and some of the axillary (underarm) lymph nodes. This is the most common surgery for women with breast cancer who are having the whole breast removed.

Radical mastectomy is an extensive operation removing the entire breast, axillary lymph nodes, and the pectoral (chest wall) muscles under the breast. This surgery was once very common. But because of the disfigurement and side effects it causes and because modified radical mastectomy has been proven to be as effective as radical mastectomy, it is rarely done.