This type of surgery removes the breast, the chest muscles, all of the underarm lymph nodes, and some additional fat and skin. It is also called a "Halsted radical" (after the surgeon who developed the procedure). A radical mastectomy was the standard treatment for breast cancer for more than 70 years and is still used today for some women.
- Advantages -Cancer can be completely removed if it has not spread beyond the breast or nearby tissue. Examination of the lymph nodes provides information that is important in planning future treatment.
- Disadvantages -Removes the entire breast and chest muscles, and leaves a long scar and a hollow chest area. May cause lymphedema (swelling of the arm), some loss of muscle power in the arm, restricted shoulder motion, and some numbness and discomfort. Breast reconstruction is also more difficult.