The Surgical Options for Breast Cancer
Hearing a breast cancer diagnosis is difficult for both patients and their loved ones. Our job is to make the surgical treatment and recovery process as smooth as possible. As a patient with breast cancer, you may have multiple surgical treatments options to remove the cancerous tissue. There are deciding factors that contribute to what surgery you choose, including the size of the development, the stage of cancer, and your personal considerations.
If breast cancer is caught in the early stages, a lumpectomy might be an appropriate surgical option for you. A lumpectomy is a breast-conserving surgery that removes a small amount of the breast containing the tumor and surrounding tissue. Lumpectomies can also be used to remove abnormal growths in the breast that are non-cancerous or pre-cancerous as a preventative measure.
Radiation is usually required before a lumpectomy to shrink or slow cancer growth. A lumpectomy is a less invasive surgery and a shorter recovery time, but there is a higher risk of cancer coming back. This is one of the factors you must consider when choosing whether to go forward with a lumpectomy versus a mastectomy.
A mastectomy is the complete removal of all breast tissue. Getting a mastectomy does not eliminate the possibility of employing other forms of treatment such as radiation or chemo. Still, it does decrease the risk of breast cancer coming back – bringing peace of mind for some patients.
A mastectomy completely removes a woman’s breasts, which can be very emotionally and physically challenging for some women. It is a more invasive surgery than a lumpectomy and requires a longer recovery time and (if the woman chooses) reconstruction surgery.
Some women may opt for a prophylactic mastectomy (removal of the breasts before any cancerous formation) if they have a significant genetic risk for breast cancer. This is, of course, an intensely personal decision that should be made with the patient’s spouse or loved ones and their medical team.
After a mastectomy, some women may also decide to undergo reconstruction surgery. Reconstruction surgery is done by a plastic surgeon and may involve tissue expanders, tissue from other parts of your body as reconstructive material, and breast implants. In some cases, reconstruction surgery can be completed in tandem with a mastectomy. Still, many doctors recommend that you wait for reconstruction surgery until after other forms of cancer treatment are completed.
Depending on what surgical path you decide to take, the recovery process will look quite different. You may be discharged from the hospital with a drainage device, and you will be bandaged. You’ll receive complete instructions on how to manage your wounds and bandages from our office. You will have periodic follow-up visits with your medical team and, when cleared, you’ll be able to return to your normal daily activities.
The Bottom Line
The ultimate decision of what surgical treatment you choose is up to the woman herself. The treatment process can be highly emotional, so a solid support system is essential. At the Minimally Invasive Institute of Surgery, we are dedicated to ensuring women receive the best surgical care possible. We work with your other providers to ensure smooth continuity of care.