What is mastectomy?
A mastectomy is surgery to remove all breast tissue from a breast as a way to treat or prevent breast cancer.
For those with early-stage breast cancer, a mastectomy may be one treatment option. Breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), in which only the tumor is removed from the breast, may be another option.
Deciding between a mastectomy and lumpectomy can be difficult. Both procedures are equally effective for preventing a recurrence of breast cancer. But a lumpectomy isn't an option for everyone with breast cancer, and others prefer to undergo a mastectomy.
Newer mastectomy techniques can preserve breast skin and allow for a more natural breast appearance following the procedure. This is also known as skin-sparing mastectomy.
Surgery to restore shape to your breast — called breast reconstruction — may be done at the same time as your mastectomy or during a second operation at a later date
What are the risk factors for mastectomy?
Risks of a mastectomy include:
- Swelling (lymphedema) in your arm if you have an axillary node dissection
- Formation of hard scar tissue at the surgical site
- Shoulder pain and stiffness
- Numbness, particularly under your arm, from lymph node removal
- Buildup of blood in the surgical site (hematoma)