Breast Cancer Surgery

Breast Cancer Surgery

For most types of breast cancer, surgery is usually the go-to. Depending on the type of breast cancer, a doctor might suggest other tests before undergoing breast cancer surgery. But, almost every breast cancer patient will go through surgery. There are different types of breast cancer surgery and the surgery itself may be done for different reasons.

The object of breast cancer surgery is to remove any cancer-suspicious tissue in the breast. The surgery is supposed to remove as much of the breast cancer as possible. Additionally, surgery will be performed to find any additional cancer cells that have spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. The type of surgery a patient goes through is determined by their desires and what stage of breast cancer is present.

Breast-Conserving Surgery

Breast-conserving surgery is a procedure in which only the part of the breast that has cancer present is removed. It is also called lumpectomy, quadrantectomy, segmental mastectomy, or partial mastectomy. The objective is to only remove the breast cancer and salvage as much of the breast as possible. The amount of breast removed depends on the size of the tumor or lump as well as other additional factors.


Mastectomy is a surgery that removes the entire breast. This method of surgery is less intrusive and can be used in almost any case of breast cancer. There are five different types of mastectomy called simple or total mastectomy, radical mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, partial mastectomy, and subcutaneous mastectomy.

Simple or total mastectomy is a surgery that concentrates solely on the breast tissue. In this type of surgery, the surgeon will remove the whole breast; no muscles beneath the breast are removed. This surgery is appropriate for women who wish to prevent any possibility of breast cancer reoccurring.

Radical mastectomy is considered the most extensive type of mastectomy surgery. The surgeon will remove the entire breast as well as lymph nodes under the arm and chest wall muscles that are located under the breast. Modified radical mastectomy is just about the same except none of the chest wall muscles are removed. These types of surgery are for people whose cancer has spread to the chest muscles and for people who need their lymph nodes further inspected.

Partial mastectomy is a surgery that removes the cancerous tissues in the breast. This surgery is very similar to breast-conserving surgery except more tissue is removed in a partial mastectomy. A subcutaneous mastectomy removes all the breast tissue, but the nipple is excluded.

Lymph Node Removal

Also known as axillary lymph node dissection, this form of breast cancer surgery occurs during a mastectomy if the biopsy shows breast cancer passing outside of the milk duct. If the breast cancer is invasive, the surgeon will most likely remove some lymph nodes under the patient’s arm. Examination of lymph nodes aids doctors in figuring out the involvement and extent of cancer. If cancer is in the lymph nodes then cancer cells are most likely in other parts of the body.

Lymph nodes usually act as filters for your body. This means they will try to filter cancerous cells, but instead, they will become cancerous themselves. Doctors will look at different kinds of lymph nodes like the nodes around the collarbone and the nodes under the arm. They are both examined by doctors manually; they are examined by hand.

Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is exactly what you would think it is. The breast is rebuilt after mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery. The reconstruction of the breast is able to take place at the same time as the surgery itself. It can also happen after the fact, whether it be months or years. During the breast reconstruction, the surgeon will create a breast shape with the use of artificial implants. The surgeon might also use a flap of tissue from another spot on the body. This surgery does not restore any sensation to the breast or nipple; it only rebuilds the shape of the breast.

Prophylactic Ovary Removal

This surgery is a preventative to breast cancer. Basically, the surgery will lower the amount of estrogen in the body. This makes it much harder for estrogen to activate any development of breast cancer.

Also known as, prophylactic oophorectomy, prophylactic ovary removal is a surgery that removes the ovaries and most often times the fallopian tubes. Since the ovaries are eggs that produce hormones like estrogen and progesterone, they are removed to lower the risk of breast cancer. This surgery is used for anyone who is at a high risk of getting breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

Prophylactic Mastectomy

Prophylactic mastectomy is a surgery that also reduces the risk of the development of breast cancer. Instead of removing the ovaries, the breast is removed. For women who have a strong family history of breast cancer, this surgery can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.


This experimental surgery is also called cryosurgery. It uses extreme cold to freeze and kill any cancerous cells. It proves useful in controlling pain and bleeding. The way it works is by freezing the water that is in all cells, including cancerous cells. When this happens, the water turns to ice crystals and the cold alone destroys the cancerous cells. This form of surgery is used for people with certain types of cancer. Currently, cryotherapy is an experimental treatment for breast cancer. Scientists are still studying this type of surgery to see if it will be a good alternative to other breast cancer surgeries.

Notice for the Diagnosed

Surgery is used for most types of breast cancer as the first line of defense. It helps doctors and scientists learn more about the diseases they are fighting and it can quite possibly save a life. However, remember that it is your body. You don’t have to do anything that you would be uncomfortable with, as there are sometimes alternatives to your treatment.

It is also worth noting that these surgeries are all different and are performed for various reasons. You may not qualify for certain breast cancer surgeries, but there will be others that are right for you.