The reasons behind the need for breast cancer surgery will dictate the type of surgery recommended by your physician. Common reasons for breast cancer surgery include:
- Remove as much of the cancer as possible (breast-conserving surgery or mastectomy)
- Find out whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm (sentinel lymph node biopsy or axillary lymph node dissection)
- Restore the breast’s shape after the cancer is removed (breast reconstruction)
- Relieve symptoms of advanced cancer
Let's learn about each of these types of breast cancer surgery.
Breast cancer removal surgeryWomen with early stage breast cancer can often choose to have breast-conserving surgeries such as lumpectomy or partial mastectomy in which only the part of the breast containing the cancer is removed. How much of the breast is removed depends on the size and location of the tumor.
Other women at any stage may choose to have the entire breast removed including surrounding tissue. This is more common in advanced cancer stages or for women at a high risk of developing recurring breast cancer.
Lymph node surgeryDuring either type of breast cancer removal, the surgeon will want to examine the lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread. To do so, one or more lymph nodes will be removed and closely examined. If the cancer has spread into the lymph nodes, an additional surgery may be required to remove more nodes.
Breast reconstruction surgeryAfter a mastectomy or a breast-conserving surgery that required a large area of the breast be removed, a woman may consider having her breasts rebuilt. There are several options for breast reconstruction - some happen at the same time as the mastectomy while others are delayed. Some of your choices may depend on your particular situation and preferences. If you think you may want reconstructive surgery, discuss it with your breast surgeon before your mastectomy so that you can plan the best treatment procedures.
Advanced breast cancer surgeryIn cases of advanced breast cancer it may not be possible to completely eliminate the cancer through surgery. However, surgery may still be used to relieve pain or slow the spread of cancer. If you have advanced stage breast cancer, talk to your doctor to see if surgery is an option to relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life.
There are many unknowns when a woman discovers she has breast cancer. But one thing is certain -- having a reliable doctor that you trust can make all the difference in your treatment. The breast cancer surgeons and medical team at Logansport Memorial Hospital help women from all over North Central Indiana with the latest in diagnostic and treatment procedures.