Mastectomy is the surgical removal of the entire breast. Some women have the option of mastectomy or lumpectomy (also called breast conserving surgery) plus radiation. Other women can only have mastectomy.
Mastectomy as treatment for breast cancer in women
Mastectomy is an option for all women with breast cancer, including those who have:
Mastectomy is also used to treat breast cancer that has come back after a lumpectomy.
Mastectomy as treatment for breast cancer in men
Mastectomy is the main treatment for breast cancer in men. Learn more about breast cancer in men.
Mastectomy for prevention in women at high risk
Some women at high risk of getting breast cancer may have a mastectomy to try to prevent breast cancer (called prophylactic mastectomy). Learn more about prophylactic mastectomy.
Types of mastectomy
There are two general types of mastectomy: total (simple) and modified radical. Your diagnosis guides which type of mastectomy you will have. Figure 5.2 below shows these types of mastectomy and describes when each is used.
Skin-sparing mastectomy and nipple-sparing mastectomy
If you are having breast reconstruction at the same time as a mastectomy, the surgeon can use a skin-sparing technique, and possibly a nipple sparing technique. A skin-sparing mastectomy uses the skin that surrounds the breast to help form the envelope for the reconstructed breast. A nipple-sparing mastectomy preserves the nipple and areola. Learn more about breast reconstruction.
Although the exact treatment for breast cancer varies from person to person, treatment guidelines help ensure quality care. These guidelines are based on the latest research and the consensus of experts. The National Comprehensive Care Network (NCCN) and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) are two respected organizations that regularly update and post their guidelines online. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) also has overviews of treatment options.