MASTECTOMY - WHAT IS IT?
Mastectomy involves removal of the whole breast (usually including the nipple) and usually removal of one or more lymph nodes from the armpit.4
Mastectomy may be recommended:
- If the breast cancer is large compared to the size of the breast or there’s more than one cancer in the breast (multifocal disease).
- There are cancer cells in the surgical margin around the breast cancer that was removed
- Breast cancer comes back in the same breast
- The woman has previously had radiotherapy to the breast area.
Some women choose to have a mastectomy as their first surgery to avoid having radiotherapy or further surgery to the breast.4
Radiotherapy to the chest wall may be recommended after mastectomy if there’s an increased risk of breast cancer coming back in the chest area. Some women also have radiotherapy to lymph nodes at the base of the neck and occasionally to the armpit.4
Breast reconstruction may be possible after a mastectomy.4
Breast reconstruction is surgery to rebuild a breast shape after mastectomy. There are two main types of breast reconstruction:
- Surgical insertion of a breast implant
- Transfer of a portion of tissue, skin and often muscle from another part of the body to the chest area – this is called a tissue flap breast reconstruction. 5