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Mastectomy | A mastectomy is usually carried out to treat breast cancer. In some cases, people believed to be at high risk of breast...

What is Mastectomy?

It is the medical term for the surgical removal of one or both breasts, partially or completely. A mastectomy is usually carried out to treat breast cancer. In some cases, people believed to be at high risk of breast cancer have the operation as a preventative measure. Alternatively, some people can choose to have a wide local excision, also known as a lumpectomy, an operation in which a small volume of breast tissue containing the tumor and a surrounding margin of healthy tissue is removed to conserve the breast. Both mastectomy and lumpectomy are referred to as “local therapies” for breast cancer, targeting the area of the tumor, as opposed to systemic therapies, such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or immunotherapy. Traditionally, in the case of breast cancer, the whole breast was removed. Currently, the decision to do the mastectomy is based on various factors, including breast size, the number of lesions, biologic aggressiveness of a breast cancer, the availability of adjuvant radiation, and the willingness of the patient to accept higher rates of tumor recurrences after lumpectomy and radiation. Outcome studies comparing mastectomy to lumpectomy with radiation have suggested that routine radical mastectomy surgeries will not always prevent later distant secondary tumors arising from micro-metastases prior to discovery, diagnosis, and operation.

The most up-to-date methods for mastectomy

The most up-to-date methods for mastectomy, or the surgical removal of breast tissue, depend on the individual’s unique situation and can include the following:

  1. Skin-sparing mastectomy: This technique removes the breast tissue while leaving as much healthy skin as possible to help with reconstructive surgery. The surgeon makes an incision around the areola and removes the breast tissue through that opening.
  2. Nipple-sparing mastectomy: This procedure removes the breast tissue while preserving the nipple and areola. It’s often used for individuals who want to undergo breast reconstruction without losing sensation in the nipple area.
  3. Robotic-assisted mastectomy: In this minimally invasive procedure, a surgeon uses a robotic arm to make small incisions and remove the breast tissue. Recovery time is typically faster than with traditional mastectomy techniques.
  4. Targeted intraoperative radiotherapy (TARGIT-IORT): This involves delivering a concentrated dose of radiation directly to the tumor site during surgery. It can be a good option for individuals with early-stage breast cancer who want to avoid the weeks-long course of external beam radiation therapy.

As with any medical procedure, it’s important to discuss all available options with a qualified healthcare provider to determine the best approach for your individual needs.

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