Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size

    Breast Cancer - Surgery

    Most people with breast cancer have surgery to remove the cancer. You may have breast-conserving surgery or surgery to remove the entire breast. Some of the lymph nodes under the arm may also be removed to check for cancer cells.

    The kind of surgery you have may depend on the size and location of your cancer and your personal preferences.

    Breast Cancer: Should I Have Breast-Conserving Surgery or a Mastectomy for Early-Stage Cancer?

    Surgery that removes part of the breast

    Procedures include:

    • Breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), which is the removal of the lump in the breast along with some of the tissue around it.
    • Partial or segmental mastectomy, which is the removal of the area of the breast that contains cancer as well as some of the breast tissue around the tumor.

    Talk to your doctor about what your breast might look like after the surgery.

    Surgery that removes all of the breast

    Mastectomy procedures include:

    • Total or simple mastectomy, which is the removal of the whole breast.
    • Modified radical mastectomy, which is the removal of the breast, some of the lymph nodes under the arm, and sometimes part of the chest wall muscles.
    • Radical mastectomy, which is the removal of the breast, chest muscles, and all of the lymph nodes under the arm (axillary lymph node dissection). This surgery is rarely used.

    Breast reconstruction

    After mastectomy, a new breast can be reconstructed. Your surgeon will rebuild the shape of your breast using artificial implants or tissue from other parts of your body.

    If you want breast reconstruction, talk to your doctor before your surgery is planned. You may be able to have breast reconstruction immediately following your mastectomy.

    Or your doctor may suggest that you wait until later for breast reconstruction if you are going to have further treatment, such as radiation. If so, you may want to use a breast prosthesis until you have your reconstruction.

    Breast Cancer: Should I Have Breast Reconstruction After a Mastectomy?

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    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
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Woman getting mammogram
    Screening Tests for Women
    serious woman
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    what is your cancer risk
    breast cancer survivors