American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

The type of operation that you will need depends on the stage of your cancer.

The two options for breast surgery are:

  • Breast-conserving surgery, which means removing the tumor and all margins of the tissue around it that might have cancer cells. The entire breast is not removed.
  • Mastectomy is the surgical removal of all the breast tissue in one or both breasts.

Discussing Choices with Your Health Care Team

Important things to consider about breast cancer treatment:

  • Your current health status
  • Breast size compared with tumor size
  • The tumor's location, size, and lymph node involvement
  • Presence of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Your desire for breast reconstruction
  • Your support system
  • Possible side effects related to sentinel or axillary lymph node biopsy or removal (swelling, numbness, change in sensation, lymphedema)
  • Possible radiation-related side effects (change in skin texture or color or shape/size)