If you have just been diagnosed with breast cancer and are considering mastectomy, here are some things to know:
There are many different types of mastectomy. The latest technique, known as a nipple-sparing mastectomy, preserves all the breast skin and the nipple-areola complex. This provides the best cosmetic results without compromising cancer care. Learn if you are a candidate for nipple-sparing mastectomy here.
Regardless of the type of mastectomy, breast reconstruction can be performed at the same time or many years later. Learn about your breast reconstruction options here.
If you have just been diagnosed with breast cancer and are considering lumpectomy, here are some things to know:
Lumpectomy, or breast conservation surgery, is the most common type of breast cancer surgery currently performed. The surgery removes only the part of the breast affected by the cancer. Unfortunately, this can significantly change the appearance of the breast and even deform the breast in smaller-breasted women. In the majority of cases, the lumpectomy will be followed by radiation therapy to decrease the risk of the breast cancer returning, known as a "recurrence". Radiation often causes tissue fibrosis (toughening, tightening and shrinking), and skin color changes are also common, red at first turning more brown over time. The change in skin color can be permanent. Radiation therapy has improved significantly over the years, but unfortunately it can still be associated with significant side effects, including damage to underlying organs such as the lungs and heart. Anyone who is facing radiation therapy must discuss all the potential risks with their their radiation oncologist beforehand.
If the changes following lumpectomy and radiation are not tolerable, or they cause significant breast asymmetry, reconstructive surgery can be performed to improve the overall cosmetic results. Learn about your reconstructive options after lumpectomy here.