What Is A Mastectomy?
In the past, breast cancer surgery often required removing the entire breast, chest wall, and all axillary lymph nodes in a procedure called a total radical mastectomy. Now, less severe surgery options exist and are common.
If the cancer is detected early enough, there are usually options that will remove the cancer while preserving breast tissue. The common options are a lumpectomy (most often followed by breast radiation treatments), a partial mastectomy, and a simple mastectomy.
The More Common Mastectomy Procedures Today Are:
A partial mastectomy requires the surgeon to remove a larger portion of the breast than in the lumpectomy — perhaps a whole segment or quadrant of tissue — in order to eliminate the cancer. Occasionally, the surgeon will remove some of the lining over the chest muscles as well.
This procedure requires removal of the breast, nipple, areola, and sentinel lymph node (or nodes) but not the breast skin. Many women who intend to have breast reconstruction will opt for this procedure.
Skin-Sparing, Nipple and Areola Sparing Mastectomy
This type of mastectomy is like the Skin-Sparing Mastectomy but also saves the nipple and areola. Commonly the incision is made underneath the breast in the area known as the mammary fold.
Simple Mastectomy (also known as total mastectomy)
This surgery requires removal of the breast, nipple, areola, and sentinel lymph node or nodes. It leaves the chest wall and more distant lymph nodes intact. A sentinel node biopsy may be done separately while the patient is in the operating room. Ideally, it is done as a skin-sparing mastectomy, preserving the skin of the breast for reconstruction.
Modified Radical Mastectomy
This procedure requires removal of the entire breast, nipple, areola, and axillary lymph nodes but often leaves the chest wall intact.
It is important to know that doing a mastectomy does not result in longer survival than doing a lumpectomy. Both accomplish the same goal which is surgical removal of the primary breast cancer tumor.