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Breast Cancer Surgery Options

Simple or Total Mastectomy

The entire breast is removed, but no lymph nodes are removed in a simple or total mastectomy. Simple mastectomy is most frequently used for further cancer prevention or when the cancer does not go to the lymph nodes.

Modified Radical Mastectomy

During a modified radical mastectomy, the surgeon removes all of the breast tissue along with the nipple. Lymph nodes in the armpit are also removed. The chest muscles are left intact. For many patients, 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.

Modified Radical Masectomy

Radical Mastectomy

For a radical mastectomy, the surgeon removes all of the breast tissue along with the nipple, lymph nodes in the armpit, and chest wall muscles under the breast. This procedure is rarely performed today because modified radical mastectomy has proved to be as effective, and is less disfiguring.

There is also the option of a skin-sparing mastectomy in which the surgeon removed the nipple and areola and the area where the tumor was removed. This procedure helps facilitate breast reconstruction without affecting the outcome of the disease.

You should thoroughly discuss these surgical options with your surgeon to achieve the best outcome. Whichever type of surgery is your best option, you will be able to return home after a short stay in the hospital.

How Long Will I Be in the Hospital?

The length of stay in the hospital varies depending on the type of surgery performed. Generally, lumpectomies are done on an outpatient basis, with the patient recovering in a 24-hour short-stay observation unit after the procedure.

Mastectomies or lymph node removal surgery usually require a one- to two-night stay in the hospital.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD on July 02, 2014

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