For some types of cancer, the most effective treatment is surgically removing the tumor.
Your surgeon may recommend one of the following breast cancer surgical procedures:
With this breast conserving surgery, the surgeon spares as much healthy breast tissue as possible during surgery. A lumpectomy is an inpatient procedure involving the surgical removal of the tumor and some healthy tissue surrounding the tumor site. The surgeon also removes some axillary lymph nodes to test for evidence of cancer. If a patient is a candidate for a lumpectomy it can be an alternative to mastectomy.
A simple mastectomy is an inpatient procedure consisting of the complete surgical removal of the affected breast and some axillary lymph nodes.
Modified Radical Mastectomy
A modified radical mastectomy is an inpatient procedure requiring the complete surgical removal of the affected breast, as well as the removal of a number of axillary lymph nodes and the lining of the chest wall muscles.
A radical mastectomy is an inpatient procedure involving the complete surgical removal of the affected breast, the chest wall muscles, the underarm lymph nodes and the fat and skin surrounding the chest muscles. Rarely used, radical mastectomy represents the most extensive mastectomy procedure, required only when cancer invades the chest wall muscle.
Sentinel Node Mapping
After a patient undergoes a primary cancer surgery such as a lumpectomy or mastectomy, a sentinel node mapping procedure may be recommended. With this procedure, the first lymph node that receives drainage from the affected breast can be removed and examined for cancer. Correctly identifying the draining nodes can significantly increase the accuracy of which nodes to surgically remove and evaluate for spread of cancer. It also helps prevent unnecessary removal of nodes that may not be in the lymphatic drainage field of the tumor. Reducing the number of nodes can reduce the chances of developing lymphedema.
Axillary Node Dissection
Another standard inpatient procedure conducted after a woman undergoes a primary cancer surgery such as a lumpectomy or mastectomy is an axillary node dissection. The axillary lymph nodes consist of three bundles of lymph nodes. Level I nodes are located beneath the armpit. Level II nodes located inside the armpit, and Level III nodes located in the shoulder. Depending upon disease progression, the surgeon removes as few as four and as many as 30 total lymph nodes from the body to test for evidence of cancer.