Breast cancer remains one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in women in the United States, second only to skin cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and there is reason to celebrate because survival rates continue to increase, and deaths have steadily declined thanks to early detection, advances in medical technology and technique, and improved treatment protocols that offer personalized, patient-focused care.
You may, under certain circumstances, be able to choose between mastectomy (total breast removal) and breast-conserving therapy, which includes partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) followed by radiation treatment. Depending on the size, location, and other characteristics of cancer, lumpectomy with radiation versus a mastectomy may be equally effective in halting the progression of early-stage breast cancer.
At Lakeland Surgical Clinic, PLLC, located in Jackson, Mississippi, our board-certified surgeons provide detailed information and education regarding your surgical options so you can make an informed decision about which treatment method you prefer. Every case is unique, but there are a few general issues to consider when choosing between mastectomy and partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) with radiation.
Breast cancer treatment
Surgery is likely to be a part of any effective treatment plan for breast cancer and may include partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) or mastectomy. The treatments you receive after surgery (adjuvant therapy) are designed to kill any remaining cancer cells and help lower the risk of recurrence.
Adjuvant therapy can include radiation, chemotherapy, or hormonal therapy. Your surgeon may also recommend therapy before surgery (neoadjuvant) to shrink tumor size and provide a better surgical outcome for large or fast-growing cancers.
The basics of partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) for breast cancer
A partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) is often referred to as breast-conserving surgery because your surgeon leaves most of your breast intact, removing only the cancerous tumor and a margin of healthy tissue surrounding it. If a biopsy reveals the margins are cancer-free, you can proceed with radiation therapy.
Because a partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) is less invasive than a mastectomy, recovery, and healing following the procedure are generally faster. However, you likely need 5-7 weeks of radiation therapy after surgery to ensure the cancer is gone.
A partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) generally preserves the size and shape of your breast and may be recommended for early-stage cancer if the tumor is small (typically less than 5cm). Large tumors and cancers that have spread across breast tissue or into your chest wall are not considered appropriate for breast-conserving surgery.
When mastectomy makes sense
A mastectomy involves the removal of one or both breasts. Mastectomy may be recommended if:
- You have two or more tumors in the affected breast
- Biopsy reveals calcium deposits throughout the breast are cancerous
- You have recurrent breast cancer despite previous radiation treatment
- Cancer is detected in the tumor margins obtained during partial mastectomy (lumpectomy)
- The tumor is large compared to the overall size of your breast
- Cancer has spread across breast tissue or into the underlying musculature
- You are at very high risk and would like to prevent breast cancer
You may also require a mastectomy if you’re pregnant or have a medical condition such as lupus and cannot undergo radiation therapy following a lumpectomy.
Even when you choose mastectomy, you often have several options to consider. For instance, you might be a good candidate for a nipple-sparing mastectomy. This procedure involves removing the breast tissue but spares the skin, nipple, and areola to provide more cosmetically pleasing results with breast reconstruction surgery.
Our providers are committed to providing outstanding care delivered with warmth and compassion, including you as part of the decision-making team. They welcome detailed and frank discussions regarding your best options for surgical treatment of breast cancer and are ready to answer your questions.
To learn more about your surgical options for treating breast cancer, call Lakeland Surgical Clinic, PLLC. for a consultation, or use the online tool to schedule your appointment.