Mastectomy is the most common treatment for breast cancer today.
As recently as 15 years ago, many doctors considered radical
mastectomy the only procedure. It removed the entire breast, the
chest muscles under the breast, and all underarm
leaving a hollow chest area. Many women feared the
treatment as much as the disease.
Thanks to medical advances, there is now a wide range of
effective procedures that may be used, depending on the individual
case. In addition to the radical mastectomy, also called a "Halsted
radical," surgical options include:
Modified radical mastectomy
Removes the breast
and the underarm lymph nodes and the lining over the chest muscles.
Sometimes the smaller of the two chest muscles is also removed.
This procedure is also called a "total mastectomy with axillary (or
underarm) dissection" and today is the most common treatment of
early stage breast cancer.
Total or simple mastectomy --
Removes only the
breast. Sometimes a few of the underarm lymph nodes closest to the
breast are removed to see if the cancer has spread beyond the
breast. May be followed by radiation therapy.
Partial or segmental mastectomy
Removes the tumor
plus a wedge of normal tissue surrounding it, including some skin
and the lining of the chest muscle below the tumor. It is followed
by radiation therapy. Many surgeons also remove some or all of the
underarm lymph nodes to check for possible spread of cancer.
Removes the breast lump and is
followed by radiation therapy. Many surgeons also remove and test
some of the underarm lymph nodes.