Known as a Mastectomy, this procedure involves removal of all of the breast tissue and a variable amount of skin.
Who is it suitable for?
Mastectomy is advised when disease is widespread, multifocal (more than one tumour), the tumour is large in relation to breast size or there is residual disease after attempted wide local excision. Some women opt for mastectomy in the first instance in order to have the least chance of residual disease or to avoid radiotherapy to the remaining breast tissue.
What is involved?
Mastectomy involves removal of all of the breast tissue and a variable amount of skin. In some women, the nipple-areola can be preserved. The scars depend on the size and position of the tumour in the breast, whether the skin over the tumour needs to be removed and the size and shape of the breast. Mastectomy is often combined with removal of lymph glands from the underarm area (sentinel node biopsy or axillary node clearance). Breast mound reconstruction is sometimes possible at the same time as the mastectomy. Surgery is done under a general anaesthetic as a day case or with an overnight stay in hospital.
Frequently asked questions
How do I know if this procedure is right for me?
It is important to discuss the operation with your surgeon. The aim of surgery is to obtain clear excision margins for complete tumour removal in order to reduce the risk of the cancer recurring. At the same time, your surgeon will advise on the best way to achieve a result that is cosmetically acceptable to you. The best outcome is achieved when you and your surgeon agree that the chosen operation will achieve your goals and expectations, and that you understand and have carefully considered the potential benefit from the procedure against the possible unwanted effects and risks from it.
How long does the procedure take?
From one hour.
How much does this procedure cost?
This depends on the complexity of the operation and length of stay in hospital. You will receive a cost breakdown before you book the operation.
Are there any potential side effects?
With any surgical procedure, there is a potential for unwanted effects. It is essential for you to minimize any risk factors (stop smoking, avoid blood thinning medications, stop the oral contraceptive pill, discuss other medications or supplements) when planning surgery.
Potential unwanted effects include: infection, bleeding, asymmetry, unsightly scars, altered sensation, loss of blood supply to the nipple (if preserved), delayed wound healing.
Important things to know about breast surgery: your breasts will naturally change with age, pregnancy and breast feeding, sensation may be altered, further surgery may be required.
If the tumour is small in relation to your breast, breast conserving surgery (Wide Local Excision, Lumpectomy or Quadrantectomy) may be possible.
Lymph Node Removal
If breast cancer is detected, this procedure can help determine whether or not cancer cells have spread outside the breast.
Various methods are available to reconstruct a breast using the woman’s own tissue or a prosthesis or a combination of these.