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Treatment

 
Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 3 - Surgery

The first step and most common form of treatment for breast cancer is surgery. This involves removing the tumor and getting clear the margins; the margin is the surrounding tissue that might be cancerous. The goal of surgery is to remove not only the tumor, but also enough of the margin to be able to test for the spread of the cancer.

Some people with Stage 2 or 3 cancer may receive chemotherapy first, which is known as “pre-operative “ or “neoadjuvant” chemotherapy. The goal is to shrink the tumor. By making it smaller, you may have the option of a breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy.

Mastectomy
In the past, surgery often required removing the, entire breast, chest wall
and all axillary lymph nodes in a procedure called a radical mastectomy. While mastectomies are less common today, there are instances in which this surgery is the best option to treat the cancer.

The more common mastectomy procedures are:

- Simple Mastectomy, also known as total mastectomy, which requires removal of the breast, nipple,areola
and sentinel lymph node or nodes.

- Modified Radical Mastectomy, which requires removal of the
entire breast, nipple, areola
and axillary lymph nodes.

- Skin-Sparing Mastectomy, which requires removal of the, breast, nipple, areola and sentinel lymph node (or nodes) but not the breast skin.

If you are thinking about breast reconstruction, you should consult your medical team before the mastectomy. Even if you plan to have your reconstruction later, this is a way for you to learn about your options.

Related Questions

  • Ethel Brooks Profile

    If you have bilateral mastectomy, how long does it take to recover from the surgery? I hear about the tubes for drainage - how long are they kept in you? What are extenders if you have reconstruction surgery?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 0 Patient
    about 9 years 13 answers
    • View all 13 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2009

      I had an unilateral mastectomy in 09. I also had a tissue expander. My drain tubes were in place for almost 2 weeks. They really were annoying! Didn't hurt, but just bothersome. I used a mastectomy cami and it was wonderful. It had a pouch in front to stuff the drain tubes in. I wore...

      more

      I had an unilateral mastectomy in 09. I also had a tissue expander. My drain tubes were in place for almost 2 weeks. They really were annoying! Didn't hurt, but just bothersome. I used a mastectomy cami and it was wonderful. It had a pouch in front to stuff the drain tubes in. I wore bagging, button down or zipper up tops and it was fine. The tissue expander is not fun though. It is a hard, implant like thing that has a magnet in it. The magnet is for the fills. The doc fills a syringe with saline and with the magnet guides the needle to the right spot and then he pokes your skin and into the expander. How long you have to have the expander in all depends on how big you want and how long it takes for you body to stretch. It didn't hurt at all except for the stretching of the muscles. My neck and back would ache for a few days. I was lucky, it only took 2 months before I was ready for the permanent implants. Over-all it isn't a horrible surgery as far as surgery goes. I have had worse for sure!! And I was only in the hospital 1 night too.

      7 comments
    • Pam Johnson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I had bilateral mastectomies 8 months ago. Stage I invasive but very small. Genetic testing negative. Sentinel Lymph node negative. Estrogen progesterone positive. Post menopausal. Age 56. I had tissue expanders for silicone gel implants for only 3 weeks before implant exchange. Drain tubes...

      more

      I had bilateral mastectomies 8 months ago. Stage I invasive but very small. Genetic testing negative. Sentinel Lymph node negative. Estrogen progesterone positive. Post menopausal. Age 56. I had tissue expanders for silicone gel implants for only 3 weeks before implant exchange. Drain tubes for almost the whole 3 weeks. They are annoying but not horrible. I wore my surgical bras and loose tops. Not a huge issue, really, but was ready for them to come out! The exchange surgery was quick and not a big deal. Went to opening home game of OU football 2 days after!! Made it thru half! Taking Arimidex ...no chemo needed. Doing fantastic'nnb

      10 comments
  • Thumb avatar default

    I am going to have a mastectomy soon. Is immediate reconstruction surgery good or should I wait?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      It greatly depends on your stage of cancer and/or radiation needed afterwards. Most women with early stages of cancer can have immediate reconstruction but some choose to wait. I had my mastectomy a little over two weeks ago. I have a late stage cancer and my surgeon said I was unfortunately a...

      more

      It greatly depends on your stage of cancer and/or radiation needed afterwards. Most women with early stages of cancer can have immediate reconstruction but some choose to wait. I had my mastectomy a little over two weeks ago. I have a late stage cancer and my surgeon said I was unfortunately a candidate for immediate reconstruction therefore I had to wait. I'll have to have more chemo then radiation before I get the go ahead. I have heard of very good results with women that have to wait or choose to wait. And several like Carla that are happy as well. Good luck with whatever choice you make!

      5 comments
    • Carla Villa Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I had my mastectomy 3 weeks ago with immediate reconstruction. I am so happy that I had this process. I have had 2 fills now and have a small mound growing where my breast used to be. This has helped me mentally with the loss. When I look in the mirror I feel okay.

      Comment
  • Lindzey Ward Profile

    Does it hurt after having a mastectomy?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 9 years 20 answers
    • View all 20 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Family Member or Loved One

      As with any surgery, there is usually pain after having a mastectomy. However, depending on the severity of the pain, doctors will often give you pain medications to help reduce the pain.

      Good luck and God Bless You!

      1 comment
    • Surf  Momma Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I would like to know also

      2 comments
  • cynthia richards Profile

    Has anyone had DVT after chemo?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    over 8 years Answer

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