Breast Cancer: The Different Types of Surgical Options

Breast CancerOne of the most common and initial treatment for breast cancer is surgery to remove all the tumour and neighbouring margins. Margins are tissues that surround the tumour; these are usually removed because they could also be cancerous.

Aside from removing the tumour and margins, surgery also aims to check if the cancer has metastasised. Once doctors have evaluated the tissues removed from the breast, a detailed report of the surgery will tell if the cancer has metastasised or if you have ‘clear margins’.

Common Surgical Options for Breast Cancer

The following are the most common surgical options for breast cancer, according to

  • Lumpectomy – This is sometimes referred to as a partial mastectomy. This surgical procedure aims to eliminate malignant tumours, as well as the potentially healthy or cancerous rim — also called margins — surrounding it, without having to remove your whole breast.
  • Mastectomy – This procedure will remove your entire breast or most of it depending on the severity of your cancer and stage of the disease. In the majority of cases, some people can opt for skin-sparing mastectomy.
  • Lymphedema and Removal of Lymph Node – Aside from a mastectomy or lumpectomy, your oncologist or doctor may recommend these in order to assess your lymph nodes and see if your cancer has metastasised and how far it has spread.
  • Breast Reconstruction – This plastic surgery procedure aims to rebuild or reconstruct your breast’s shape. It’s either done simultaneously with your surgery or some time later.

Determining Which Surgery is Right For You

Some patients with Stage 2 or 3 breast cancer will be recommended to undergo chemotherapy first, known as neoadjuvant or pre-operative chemotherapy in order to shrink the cancerous tumour first. Once the tumour has responded to chemotherapy, patients usually have the option to undergo lumpectomy to conserve most of their breast, rather than mastectomy, which is a more invasive procedure.

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Your oncologist or doctor will be the one to advise on what types of surgeries are appropriate for your condition based on the specific circumstances of your disease. Your oncologist will be able to discuss all the benefits and potential risks of every option and explain how well they can accomplish the objective of getting rid of your cancer.