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St. Vincent's Medical Center, Bridgeport CT

Mastectomy

St. Vincent's Medical Center, Bridgeport CTSt. Vincent's SWIM Women's Imaging Center (203) 576-5500

A mastectomy is surgery to remove a breast.

It is performed either to treat or to prevent breast cancer. Only high-risk patients have surgery to prevent cancer. 

There are four main types: 

  • Total mastectomy - removal of breast tissue and nipple
  • Modified radical mastectomy - removal of the breast, most of the lymph nodes under the arm and often the lining over the chest muscles
  • Lumpectomy - surgery to remove the tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it
  • Radical mastectomy - the removal of the breast, lymph nodes and chest muscles. This is no longer common

Which surgery you have depends on the stage of cancer, size of the tumor, size of the breast and whether the lymph nodes are involved. These procedures are performed at the Elizabeth M. Pfriem SWIM Center for Cancer Care located on the Medical Center Campus where comprehensive, multi-disciplinary cancer care of the highest quality is delivered in a safe, compassionate, easily accessible manner.

Overview

Mastectomy is an operation in which the entire breast, usually including the nipple and the areola, is removed. In general, women with breast cancer can decide whether to be treated with a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.

A lumpectomy is the removal of the cancerous breast tissue as well as a surrounding rim of healthy breast tissue. A lumpectomy is a breast-conserving surgery that is usually followed by radiation therapy.
A woman may decide to have a mastectomy versus a lumpectomy based on the following: 

  • If the tumor is big and, after the lumpectomy, very little breast tissue would remain
  • If she does not want to undergo radiation therapy after the surgery  

If the woman has tumors in more than one quadrant of the breast, most cancer doctors recommend a mastectomy.

Results

Long-term survival is similar whether the woman chooses lumpectomy or mastectomy. The difference between the treatments is the risk of recurrence locally (in the breast or on the chest wall). The 20-year risk of local recurrence after mastectomy is 3%-5% compared to 15%-20% after lumpectomy and radiation. 

  • Self-examination of the breast and an annual mammography help in the early detection of breast cancer.
  • In the United States, yearly mammography screening is recommended for women older than 40 years.
  • In addition to mastectomy, treatments such as hormonal therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy (if required) improve the chances of recurrence-free, long-term survival.

Contact us

St. Vincent's SWIM Women's Imaging Center (203) 576-5500

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