Encyclopedia / M / Mastectomy



Mastectomy is the most common treatment for breast cancer today. As recently as 15 years ago, many doctors considered radical mastectomy the only procedure for treating breast cancer. It removed the entire breast, the chest muscles under the breast, and all underarm lymph nodes, leaving a hollow chest area. Many women feared the treatment as much as the disease.

Currently, the treatment of choice is called the modified radical mastectomy. In this procedure, only the breast tissue and underarm lymph nodes are removed. This is a much less disfiguring procedure and is often combined with a cosmetic operation to mimic the natural shape of the breast.


Is the need for mastectomy established?

Which type of mastectomy would be performed?

Would lumpectomy be a good alternative?

What are the comparative benefits and risks of mastectomy and lumpectomy?

If a lumpectomy is performed what are the chances of recurrence?

Where can I get information and emotional support following the mastectomy?