There are two basic types of surgery to remove breast cancer:
Figure 5.1 shows each type of surgery.
Lumpectomy. The surgeon removes the breast tumor and a small rim of normal tissue around it, but the rest of the breast remains intact.
Image courtesy of Lange Productions (http://langeproductions.com/).
Mastectomy. The surgeon removes the entire breast (in many, but not all, cases this includes the nipple and areola).
Most women who have lumpectomy will have radiation therapy to the breast, and sometimes the underarm area, after surgery.
Some women who have mastectomy may have radiation therapy to the chest and/or the underarm area.
Learn more about radiation therapy.
Breast reconstruction can help restore the look and feel of the breast after a mastectomy.
It can be done at the same time as the mastectomy or later.
Some women choose not to have reconstruction after a mastectomy.
In rare cases, reconstruction may be done after a lumpectomy to maintain a more natural appearance of the breast, or to match the size and shape of the other breast.
Learn more about breast reconstruction.
Although the exact treatment for breast cancer varies from person to person, guidelines help ensure high quality care. These guidelines are based on the latest research and agreement among experts.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) are two respected organizations that regularly review and update their guidelines.
In addition, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has treatment overviews.
Talk with your health care providers about which treatment guidelines they use. Since there’s often a lag time between the latest research and guideline updates, most providers prefer to base their treatment on the latest research.
You may have a choice between a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.
Almost all women who have a lumpectomy will also get radiation therapy.
For women who have a choice, survival with lumpectomy plus radiation therapy is the same as with mastectomy .
The choice of surgery does not affect whether you will need chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or targeted therapy.
These drug therapies are given based on the characteristics of the tumor, not the type of surgery you have.
Learn more about lumpectomy.
Learn more about mastectomy.
Learn more about deciding between lumpectomy and mastectomy.
If you are facing breast cancer surgery, remember there are many women who have been where you are today. They had the same fears and made the same tough choices. These women have gone through surgery, recovered and are living their lives.
It may be helpful to talk with women who have finished treatment about their experiences to help ease your fears.
You can find someone to talk to on our Message Boards. Your health care provider may also be able to help you find a local support group.
Learn more about social support and find a list of support resources.
SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES
Interactive Treatment Navigation Tool
Surgical Options Video
Facts for Life: Breast Cancer Surgery
Questions to Ask Your Doctor: Breast Cancer Surgery
1-877 GO KOMEN(1-877-465-6636)
What gives you strength during treatment?