There are different types of surgery for breast cancer. The type you have depends on: the size of the cancerwhere the cancer is in your breastthe size of your breastsyour personal wishes and feelings Surgery to remove just the area of cancer Surgery to remove the area of cancer in the breast is called breast conserving surgery or a wide local excision.
They leave behind as much healthy breast tissue as possible. You usually have radiotherapy to the breast after this type of surgery. Surgery to remove your whole breast Some women need surgery to remove their whole breast (mastectomy). Or they might choose to have this operation. The surgeon removes the breast tissue (including the skin and nipple) and the tissues that cover the chest muscles.
This is called a radical mastectomy. You may choose to have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. Instead of reconstruction, some women prefer to go flat or wear a breast shape (prosthesis). You might have radiotherapy after a mastectomy if: there are cancerous lymph nodes in the armpit the margins are not clear the cancer is locally advanced Breast reconstruction After a mastectomy, you might want to have breast reconstruction.
Your surgeon will talk to you about the different options for breast reconstruction before your operation. You might have it at the same time as the operation to remove the breast (immediate reconstruction), or sometime later (delayed reconstruction). Choosing to go flat after a mastectomy You might decide that you don’t want to wear a prosthesis or have a breast reconstruction after having a mastectomy.
Women decide to do this for various reasons. It might be because you: don’t want to have more surgery want to get back to everyday life as soon as possibledon’t want to wear prosthesis, or find them uncomfortable Your surgeon and breast care nurse will talk to you about all your options.
You may need time to make your decision. Talking to family and friends about how you feel can help. A charity called Flat Friends supports ladies living without reconstruction after a mastectomy. Removing the lymph nodes Cancer cells might have spread into the lymph nodes close to the breast. Lymph nodes are found in many parts of the body.
You usually have one of these at the same time as your breast surgery. But some people might have an axillary lymph node dissection at a second operation. Treatment options Your doctor might give you a choice of treatments. This may be a choice between removing the whole breast (mastectomy) or having just the area of cancer removed (breast conserving surgery) and then having radiotherapy.
You are asleep the whole time. Many people now have breast surgery as a day case or go home the following day. If you have breast reconstruction at the same time you are more likely to be in hospital for 4 to 7 days. Everyone having treatment for breast cancer should have a specialist nurse or key worker.
Do ask your surgeon about this if you have not been introduced to someone. Davina's story Davina had a lumpecomy and lymph nodes removed. “I’m getting stronger every day by doing the exercises I was shown at the hospital.” .