Most patients with breast cancer have surgery to remove the cancer from the breast; some lymph nodes under the arm are usually taken out at the same time and examined under a microscope to determine if they contain cancer cells.
Common Procedures when Treating Breast Cancer
Breast Conserving Surgery
Breast conserving surgery removes the cancer but not the breast itself, either through a lumpectomy (surgical removal of the tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it), a quadrantectomy (removal of about one quarter of the breast tissue) or a partial mastectomy (surgery to remove the part of the breast that has the cancer and some normal tissue around it). Surgeons at Women & Infants are trained in the most advanced oncoplastic surgery techniques for removing the cancerous tissue while also reforming the breast into a normal shape.
Total mastectomy is surgery to remove the breast containing cancer.
Modified Radical Mastectomy
Modified radical mastectomy is surgery to remove the whole breast containing cancer, many of the lymph nodes under the arm, the lining over the chest muscles and, sometimes, part of the chest wall muscles.
Radical mastectomy is surgical removal of both breasts; if this is done when there is no cancer present but genetic testing indicates the woman has a higher risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, it is called a prophylactic mastectomy.
Axillary Lymph Node Dissection
If a biopsy shows that the breast cancer has spread outside the milk duct, the surgeon will remove 10 to 40 lymph nodes from under the arm during a lumpectomy or mastectomy surgery to check if the cancer spread.