Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Breast Cancer Surgery Overview

    The goal of breast cancer surgery is to remove the tumor itself and a portion of surrounding tissue, while conserving as much of the breast as possible.

    What Are the Options for Breast Cancer Surgery?

    Various breast cancer surgery techniques differ in the amount of breast tissue that is removed with the tumor, and that depends on the tumor location, extent of spread, and the individual’s personal feelings. The surgeon also removes some lymph nodes under the arm 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.

    The breast cancer surgeon should discuss the surgery options before the procedure. A specific surgical procedure may be recommended based on the size, location, or your genetic risk factors. Some of the procedures you may discuss with your doctor include:

    • Lumpectomy (also known as partial or segmental mastectomy, or quadrantectomy) - removes a portion of the breast
    • Mastectomy - Removes the whole breast. Types include:
      • Total mastectomy
      • Skin-sparing mastectomy
      • Modified radical mastectomy
      • Radical mastectomy (rarely performed)

    You should thoroughly discuss these surgical options with your doctor 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 for Breast Cancer Surgery?

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

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

    Learn about chemotherapy for breast cancer.
    Learn about radiation therapy for breast cancer.
    Learn about hormone therapy for breast cancer.
    Find out about breast reconstruction after surgery.

    View the full table of contents for the Breast Cancer Guide.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Suchita Pakkala, MD on August 01, 2016

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
     
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
     
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    VIDEO
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Article
     
    Woman getting mammogram
    Article
    Screening Tests for Women
    Article
     
    serious woman
    Article
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    QUIZ
     
    what is your cancer risk
    Article
    breast cancer survivors
    Article