What is breast cancer surgery?

Once breast cancer is detected or diagnosed, surgical treatment plans need to be made to remove the cancer and reduce the chance of the cancer returning. Your surgeon will discuss breast-sparing techniques.

The various surgical techniques differ in how much breast tissue is removed with the tumor. The technique that is used depends on how big the tumor is, where it is located, whether it has spread (metastasized), and your personal feelings. The surgeon often removes some axillary (underarm) lymph nodes as part of the operation; the lymph nodes are then tested to see if they have any cancer cells. This is done to help plan your treatment after surgery.

The breast surgeon will discuss your surgery options with you before the procedure. The surgeon may recommend a specific surgical procedure for you based on the size, location, or type of breast cancer you have. Some of the procedures the physician may discuss with you include lumpectomy, simple or total mastectomy, and modified radical mastectomy.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/22/2015.


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