Breast Cancer Surgery

What is breast cancer surgery?

Have you recently been diagnosed with breast cancer? Are you desperately hunting for answers and options for breast cancer treatment?

For many women, the thought of undertaking a course of breast surgery is both a scary and worrying time. Add to this the fact that there are so many different types of breast cancer surgery it can be a daunting time, especially with the added worry of a diagnosis of cancer. At Texas Breast Center, Dr. Valerie Gorman is passionate about providing an all-encompassing service to her patients. She desires to be involved for the duration of all treatments, including the first initial meeting and even long after the surgery has been completed. She is also passionate about patient education which is the primary purpose of this website.

We understand that it can be difficult to fully comprehend the sheer quantity and complexity of the information being discussed during any meeting with the doctor. This page is not intended to be a full in-depth explanation of the various types of breast cancer surgery, but rather a beginners guide to help patients gain a basic understanding of the processes involved.

What Is A Mastectomy?

Although the operation you may have been told you need is called a mastectomy, there are actually five different types of mastectomy.

Simple or Total Mastectomy

This surgery involves the total removal of the breast with the option of reconstruction after the mastectomy, and is often combined with lymph node sampling (Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy). Normally, there is no need to remove any of the muscles underneath the breasts. This is clearly a significant operation and is typically conducted under different circumstances.

  • If as a result of a mammogram, the breasts are discovered to have large areas of ductal carcinoma in situ.
  • In prophylactic mastectomies, which is where for a variety of reasons, such as increased risk due to familial history, a woman decides to have a mastectomy to remove the risk of breast cancer occurring.
  • If there are multiple lesions in different quadrants of the breast.

Modified Radical Mastectomy

A much less invasive and more commonly used procedure today is a modified radical mastectomy. In this operation, the surgery removes the entire breast, as well as the lymph nodes. The skin may or not be removed, but the chest muscle tissue is not touched at all. Depending on your circumstances and personal choices, breast reconstruction may be an option at the completion of this surgery.

Partial Mastectomy/Lumpectomy

A partial mastectomy, otherwise known as a lumpectomy may be an option depending on particular circumstances. This operation involves the removal of the tumor and a small amount of the breast tissue that surrounds the tumor. This is usually a day surgery procedure. There are a number of factors that will determine whether or not a patient is suitable for a partial mastectomy.

  • The first consideration is that there is usually only one tumor, and it needs to be no more than 5cm in diameter.
  • There needs to be sufficient quantities of tissue remaining after the operation, to prevent the woman being left with a misshapen breast.
  • Finally, it is important that the woman can get the surgery, and then undertake a course of radiation treatment afterward.

Radiation treatment forms a vital part of the lumpectomy procedure, and where possible, a lumpectomy is the preferred treatment option of choice. This is because it is less invasive, leaves the woman with much better cosmetic results and regarding lifespan, delivers the same life longevity as a mastectomy. Radiation treatment can be as short as five days but in some cases a six-week course is required.

Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy

A nipple-sparing mastectomy involves the removal of the breast tissue while leaving the breast skin, nipple and areola intact. There are a number of benefits to this type of surgery, aside from the obvious cosmetic issue. Many of the women we have worked with regularly comment that they feel much more self-confident, and are not as body conscious as they anticipated that they might be before their surgery. Full reconstruction of the breast with our plastic surgeon is available after a nipple-sparing mastectomy.

Hidden Scar Surgery

Hidden scar surgery is a relatively recent innovation and method used in the removal of breast cancer. The basic concept of hidden scar surgery is to minimize the scars that are visible on your body, once healing is complete. This is achieved by Dr. Gorman selecting an incision point where she is still able to perform the procedure, but that will be virtually invisible, once the surgery has healed. These entry points could be directly under the breasts, where the breast meets the body, in the folds of the armpit, or along the areolar margin. Hidden Scar Surgery is used in lumpectomy operations or nipple-sparing mastectomies. They are not suitable for every patient, but Dr. Gorman will always discuss the various alternatives and options with you before any surgery taking place. The rate of success for patients that have hidden scar tissue is no different to other ways of performing the surgery.
Surgical and medical advances in recent years and changed the landscape and possibilities for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Dr.Gorman has many years of knowledge and experience and specializes exclusively in breast cancer surgery. Whenever a patient schedules an appointment at our offices, we will walk you through the various options in greater detail and specific to your situation. This personal level of attention is often the aspect of the treatment that our patients most appreciate. For more information, call Texas Breast Center today.

Learn More

Browse our breast cancer surgery resource library.