Depending upon your personal treatment plan, surgery will probably be one of the first things that you encounter. The result of all that scanning, poking and prodding to date means that your specialist will have a good idea of the extent of the tumour and what type of breast surgery you’ll be expecting.
Used for the early stages of cancer and where the tumour is small and confined, a lumpectomy removes just the tumour and surrounding tissue until a clear margin (a clear margin of tissue where the cells are normal again) is reached.
Bigger than a lumpectomy and smaller than a mastectomy – also know as a breast conserving surgery. For larger tumours and more invasive cancer this is where a portion or segment of the breast is removed and the rest is spared as much as possible.
Modified Radical Mastectomy
Large, invasive tumours or cancer such as inflammatory breast cancer require removal of the whole breast tissue but the underlying chest muscles remain intact.
Total removal of the breast and underlying chest muscles – rarely performed today.
Sentinel Node Biopsy
The first lymph node draining from the breast (sentinel node) is injected with a special dye to see if it contains any cancer and this aids the decision as to whether an axillary clearance and chemo are required.
Any evidence or suspicion that they might contain cancer will require removal of the lymph nodes from the armpit – this is usually completed at the same time as the mastectomy and often leaves no additional scarring.
One bump or two?
A mastectomy can be either one breast (unilateral) or both breasts (bilateral) aka mono boobs and nono boobs. This decision is made along with your surgeon and depends upon many factors such as genetic disposition to breast cancer, disease in the other breast and personal wishes.
You may also have the option to have an immediate reconstruction or a reduction on your remaining breast – this will be dependent upon your treatment plan and will need to be discussed with your surgeon.