“You have breast cancer.”
Those are never easy words to hear. Do you need breast cancer surgery? Are there alternatives? Will you need to lose your entire breast, or can the surgeon remove the cancerous section and leave the rest?
These are questions Dr. Andy Higgins hears daily.
Most types of breast cancer do require surgery to remove the cancerous tissue. In some cases, the entire breast must be removed. That type of surgery is known as a “mastectomy.” Other times, the breast can be conserved. In those cases, a “lumpectomy” is performed.
Here are the primary factors a breast cancer surgeon will consider before recommending the type of breast surgery required:
- Where is the cancer located in your breast?
- How large are your breasts?
- How extensive is the cancer now?
There is another factor to be considered, and it is the one that is up to you: What do you want? Are you comfortable with the removing the entire breast, or do you want the surgeon to make every effort to save it?
Lumpectomy as a breast cancer surgery method
In order to successfully perform a lumpectomy, the breast cancer surgeon must remove all traces of the cancer and leave a “margin” of healthy tissue on all sides of the space it occupied. Lumpectomy breast cancer surgery will typically require a follow-up series of radiation treatments to reduce the risk of a reoccurrence.
Mastectomy as a breast cancer surgery method
There are several types of mastectomies. In a “simple mastectomy,” the surgeon will remove all breast tissue. Other types of mastectomies can save the skin (subcutaneous mastectomy), or save the nipple (nipple-sparing mastectomy). Some cases require a “radical mastectomy” that removes the entire breast along with the lymph nodes and pectoral muscles. Radical mastectomies are rarely necessary, but they are an option in cases of advanced breast cancer.
Should you have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy?
There are times when the surgeon will tell you the type of surgery is optional. A lumpectomy may be sufficient, but some patients prefer to go ahead and get the entire breast removed. Radiation may not be required with a mastectomy, and breast reconstruction or a breast mastectomy prothesis can serve to restore the shape of your breast if you wish. Do your research. Ask questions to make sure you understand the likely outcomes of each type of surgery.
Your breast cancer surgeon can help you decide
Dr. Higgins listens carefully to his patients and makes sure their questions and concerns are addressed. If you’re in the Bend, Oregon, area call his office at (541) 749-7000. If you’re not in Central Oregon make sure to get the information you need to feel comfortable with your decision. Be good to yourself. You can get through this.