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.
Surgery that removes part of the breast
- 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 whole breast and the lymph nodes under the arm (axillary lymph nodes).
- 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.
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.