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Treatment

 
Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 3 - Surgery

The first step and most common form of treatment for breast cancer is surgery. This involves removing the tumor and getting clear the margins; the margin is the surrounding tissue that might be cancerous. The goal of surgery is to remove not only the tumor, but also enough of the margin to be able to test for the spread of the cancer.

Some people with Stage 2 or 3 cancer may receive chemotherapy first, which is known as “pre-operative “ or “neoadjuvant” chemotherapy. The goal is to shrink the tumor. By making it smaller, you may have the option of a breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy.

Mastectomy
In the past, surgery often required removing the, entire breast, chest wall
and all axillary lymph nodes in a procedure called a radical mastectomy. While mastectomies are less common today, there are instances in which this surgery is the best option to treat the cancer.

The more common mastectomy procedures are:

- Simple Mastectomy, also known as total mastectomy, which requires removal of the breast, nipple,areola
and sentinel lymph node or nodes.

- Modified Radical Mastectomy, which requires removal of the
entire breast, nipple, areola
and axillary lymph nodes.

- Skin-Sparing Mastectomy, which requires removal of the, breast, nipple, areola and sentinel lymph node (or nodes) but not the breast skin.

If you are thinking about breast reconstruction, you should consult your medical team before the mastectomy. Even if you plan to have your reconstruction later, this is a way for you to learn about your options.

Related Questions

  • Thumb avatar default

    Both of my grandmothers had breast cancer, one died and one had a mastectomy and is still alive! I am 47, am having pain, swelling and itching but feel no lumps! I have scheduled a mammogram but I am freaking out! Does this sound like it could be cancer?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Anonymous,
      I absolutely know the fear you are having but you need to go and get a mammogram now mostly for your own peace of mind. Have you had a mammogram in the past? Anytime you have itching, swelling, pain, anywhere in your body it needs to be checked! Try not to think your grandmothers...

      more

      Anonymous,
      I absolutely know the fear you are having but you need to go and get a mammogram now mostly for your own peace of mind. Have you had a mammogram in the past? Anytime you have itching, swelling, pain, anywhere in your body it needs to be checked! Try not to think your grandmothers fate will be yours. It is something to be aware of and to make your doctor aware also but it isn't something written in stone. Breast cancer is sneaky. It can hurt, swell, itch, have lumps, not have lumps, be a rash, invert nipples, have all sorts of weird things.... or it won't bother you at all. Put on those big girl panties and get a doctor's appointment. It is time to get those "girls" checked. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Jk Joyce Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      I have always heard that breast cancer is not painful. Mine was very small and had no symptoms but was found on a mammogram. Maybe you have an infection. Make an appt and get it checked. Keep us updated. Praying for great news.

      Comment
  • Karyn Crum Profile

    Has anyone heard about the cold cap therapy or know anyone that has used it?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    almost 8 years 2 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Karyn, we talked about this earlier this month because I brought it up. There was more negative that positive because of the possibility of messing with the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. I hope somebody comes forward and reminds us. I think it warrants discussion with an oncologist. Hair...

      more

      Karyn, we talked about this earlier this month because I brought it up. There was more negative that positive because of the possibility of messing with the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. I hope somebody comes forward and reminds us. I think it warrants discussion with an oncologist. Hair loss was traumatic for me, in fact more mentally traumatic than losing my breast. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Karyn Crum Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      Sharon I talked to my Oncologist about the Cold Cap Therapy and he had nothing good to say. Most important, not enough studies done yet and not approved by the FDA!

      Comment
  • Nancy Andrews Profile

    I am recovering from a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction and am having a lot of pain with the expanders. Any suggestions?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Surf  Momma Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I am right there with you. My surgery was one
      Month ago. No, nothing that I am aware of that we can do.

      Comment
    • Stephanie Odom Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Be patient. It took a good month before mine didn't feel alien, and 2 months or more before I could sleep at least a little on my side. But I didn't get mine expanded before I started chemo, so i've had it easy so far.

      1 comment
  • Cecilia Clark Profile

    The drain's still in place after three weeks. Does anyone else have this?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 0 Patient
    about 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      No Cecilia, I had mine out at 2 weeks - I then had fluid build up on left side that had to be aspirated. It's better to have them in longer if needed. After reading your bio, I am wondering if you had implants inserted at time of mastectomy & not expanders? You said you had to have the one side...

      more

      No Cecilia, I had mine out at 2 weeks - I then had fluid build up on left side that had to be aspirated. It's better to have them in longer if needed. After reading your bio, I am wondering if you had implants inserted at time of mastectomy & not expanders? You said you had to have the one side revised so that makes me think that. Prayers to you.

      2 comments
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Cecilia,
      I think the drains need to stay in as long as they are needed. They are a pain to have but they are serving a purpose... to drain excess fluids that remain. It is truly better to have them in than have fluids build up. I would just be patient but also keep asking your surgeon about...

      more

      Cecilia,
      I think the drains need to stay in as long as they are needed. They are a pain to have but they are serving a purpose... to drain excess fluids that remain. It is truly better to have them in than have fluids build up. I would just be patient but also keep asking your surgeon about them too. Take care, Sharon

      1 comment

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