A mastectomy is surgery to remove the breast and surrounding tissue. It is a treatment for breast cancer. The surgery may also be an option for women at high risk for developing breast cancer, such as those with a strong family history of the disease or who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations .
There are different types of mastectomies. The type depends on how much tissue is removed. Your doctor will consider your cancer type and stage before recommending the specific procedure.
Mastectomy options include:
- Simple mastectomy, or total mastectomy, removes the entire breast, including the breast tissue, areola, nipple, and skin.
- Subcutaneous mastectomy, also called a nipple-sparing mastectomy, leaves the nipple and areola intact, but removes the breast tissue under the skin.
- Partial mastectomy, also called a lumpectomy or segmental mastectomy, removes the cancer and a small amount of the normal breast tissue surrounding it. This procedure is often combined with radiation therapy.
- Radical mastectomy removes the entire breast, including breast tissue, nipple, areola, skin, underarm lymph nodes, and the chest wall muscles under the breast.
- Modified radical mastectomy is a radical mastectomy without the removal of the chest wall muscles.
Discuss all your options with your doctor. Be sure to ask about the benefits and risks of each mastectomy type, including recovery and follow-up care.
If you are in need of a cancer treatment like mastectomy in Arizona, rely on our team of expert oncologists at Dignity Health’s Cancer Institute. We are dedicated to designing a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs, based on your genetic profile, lifestyle, and individual circumstances. Find a Doctor near you today or call (602) 406-8222.
Risks & Complications of Mastectomy
All surgeries come with risks, including bleeding, blood clots, reactions to anesthesia, and infections. Mastectomy also includes these risks:
- Nerve damage
- Severe arm swelling due to lymphedema, a buildup of lymph fluid
Recovering from Mastectomy
Depending on the type of mastectomy, your recovery could take four to eight weeks. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to help relieve pain and discomfort. After mastectomy, some women choose to have breast augmentation surgery, wear a breast prosthesis, or live without breasts. Many women find that they benefit from emotional therapy, support groups, and other resources after undergoing a mastectomy. Dignity Health’s cancer care team offers comprehensive post-surgery support, and includes social workers, spiritual care experts, and dieticians.
Following your surgery, you will need to see your doctor for routine exams. If any breast tissue remains, you will still need regular breast exams and mammograms.
Dignity Health provides compassionate cancer care, including many options for mastectomy in Arizona.