What Is A Mastectomy?

When you are diagnosed with breast cancer and require surgical treatment, you may undergo a mastectomy, the removal of some or all of the breast. There are several types of mastectomy procedures, some of which may involve only the removal of lymph nodes, muscle tissue and skin depending on which mastectomy you and your oncologist decide on.

Here is a breakdown of the types of mastectomy surgeries performed at Regional Cancer Care Associates.

Breast Cancer Surgery Scar

Partial Mastectomy

One of the most common types of mastectomy procedures, a partial mastectomy, also known as a lumpectomy, is one of the least invasive. It involves removing only the portion of the breast containing the cancer, as well as a small circular area around it, to help prevent recurring tumors.

Simple Mastectomy

Also known as a total mastectomy, this surgery focuses on the breast tissue. During a simple mastectomy, the entire breast—including the nipple, areola and overlying skin—is removed. While it does not aim to remove lymph nodes, some may be removed if they are located within the breast tissue.

Radical Mastectomy

A radical mastectomy, though rarely performed, is an option for patients whose cancer has spread into their chest muscles. During the surgery, the entire breast is removed, as well as the underarm lymph nodes and, in some cases, the chest muscles associated with the breast.

Skin-Sparing Mastectomy

Depending on the severity of your breast cancer, a skin-sparing mastectomy might be ideal. The surgery involves the removal of the breast tissue, nipple and areola while preserving most of the breast’s skin. Breast reconstruction will immediately follow.

Skin-sparing mastectomy, however, is not recommended for patients with large tumors or with tumors located near the skin’s surface.

Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy

If there is no presence of breast cancer in the nipple and areola, this type of mastectomy saves those areas. During the procedure, all breast tissue and the ducts connecting to the nipple and areola are removed, and breast reconstruction is performed immediately afterward. This procedure is sometimes called a total skin-sparing mastectomy to account for the preservation of the nipple and areola, which are not spared in a skin-sparing mastectomy.

Double Mastectomy

Any type of mastectomy performed on both breasts is called a double mastectomy. While a double mastectomy can be performed to remove tumors in both breasts, this procedure most often is a preventative measure. For instance, a woman or man with breast cancer in one breast may opt for a double mastectomy to drastically reduce the chances of the cancer coming back and spreading. In addition, those with the BRCA gene mutation or who are at severe risk of developing breast cancer may opt for a double mastectomy before the cancer even exists.

Making the Decision

The prospect of mastectomy can be both frightening and heartbreaking, but you won’t be in this fight alone. Our team of experts at Regional Cancer Care Associates will work tirelessly to form an appropriate course of action to battle your breast cancer. We will review the types of mastectomy that may be an option for you and prepare you for what to expect before, during and after the procedure. We will also support you long after your mastectomy to ensure your healing process is successful, from breast reconstruction surgery to follow-up visits once you’re completely cancer-free. For more information, contact Regional Cancer Care Associates today.