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    Breast Cancer Surgery Options

    Lymph Node Surgery

    An important part of breast cancer surgery involves checking the lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread. The doctor usually does this at the time of the original surgery, but sometimes he does that at a later time. There are two main types of lymph node surgery for breast cancer:

    Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). The surgeon takes out about 10 to 20 lymph nodes from under the arm. Those then get checked for cancer.

    Sentinel lymph node biopsy. The surgeon finds and removes the lymph node where the breast cancer would most likely have spread first. This surgery is less likely to cause lymphedema, or swelling in the arm, than an ALND.

    Breast Reconstruction

    Many women who get a mastectomy choose to get breast reconstruction either right afterward or later on. You can use breast implants or your own tissue, usually from your lower abdomen.

    How Long Will I Be in the Hospital?

    The length of your stay in the hospital will vary, depending on the type of surgery you have, how well you tolerate the operation, and your general health.

    Lumpectomies are usually outpatient procedures. You’ll recover in a short-stay observation unit and will likely go home later the same day.

    If you have a mastectomy or an ALND, you’ll probably stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 nights.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 16, 2015
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