What’s the Difference Between a Mastectomy and a Lumpectomy?
Breast surgery is among the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States. Patients commonly pursue breast surgery as a component of cancer treatment and other health conditions.
If you need breast surgery, you may wonder what the difference is between a mastectomy and a lumpectomy. Both procedures remove breast cancer, but the location and stage of your cancer are significant factors when choosing between the two.
Your oncologist and surgeon will help you weigh the benefits and risks of a mastectomy versus lumpectomy to ensure you make the best choice for your long-term health and recovery.
What Is a Lumpectomy?
A lumpectomy is recommended for patients with less advanced or invasive forms of breast cancer. Also known as a breast biopsy or breast-conserving surgery, a lumpectomy removes breast masses and a rim of normal surrounding tissue while leaving most of the breast intact.
A lumpectomy may be done for benign diseases and smaller, less advanced cancers or biopsy. Not everyone is a suitable candidate for a lumpectomy.
If you have a lumpectomy for cancer, following the procedure, the pathologist will check whether any cancer remains. If it appears there may be some cancer left behind, you may need to undergo a further removal of additional breast tissue in a second surgery.
You may need post-operative radiation treatment or chemotherapy depending upon your particular situation and the findings from the pathologist, which will be determined by your oncologist.
Benefits & Risks of Lumpectomies
- A lumpectomy is a less invasive surgery focusing on only removing cancerous tissue.
- This same-day procedure allows you to return home as quickly as possible.
However, because lumpectomies are less invasive:
- You have a higher risk of recurrent cancer, which could require additional surgery to remove.
- You may need radiation therapy following your lumpectomy to prevent cancer from returning.
What Is a Mastectomy?
A mastectomy is a procedure that removes the entire breast. This surgery is commonly performed in four different forms:
- A simple (total) mastectomy removes the breast but leaves the lymph nodes intact unless they’re located within the breast tissue.
- A modified radical mastectomy removes the breast and some lymph nodes to determine whether cancer cells have spread beyond the breast.
- A partial mastectomy only removes portions of the breast, much like a lumpectomy, though more tissue is removed in total.
Benefits & Risks of Mastectomies
- A mastectomy provides the most peace of mind by eliminating the risk of recurrent breast cancer and the need for additional surgeries. People with high genetic risks of breast cancer may prefer a mastectomy for this reason.
- Radiation therapy is usually not necessary after a mastectomy.
Drawbacks of mastectomies include:
- The procedure may require a longer hospital stay and recovery time.
- Permanent breast removal can have adverse psychological effects. Therefore, many women elect to have breast reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy, in which case Surgical Professionals can refer you to a plastic surgeon.
- There may be more post-operative wound complications.
Which Breast Surgery Is Right for You?
While it’s worthwhile to take an active role in your treatment, you don’t need to decide which breast surgery to get all on your own. Your oncology team and oncological surgeon will discuss your options and their expected outcomes with you to give you all the information you need ahead of your breast surgery.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or have a breast lump that requires further workup, the team at Surgical Professionals can provide the care and treatment you need. We encourage you to schedule a consultation with our surgeons to discuss whether a mastectomy or lumpectomy may be best for you.
Remember, our goal is to help you achieve excellent long-term results, so if we believe surgery is not in your best interest, we won’t hesitate to tell you.
Contact Surgical Professionals today at 480-892-2456 for more information about breast surgery in Phoenix, Mesa, and Chandler, AZ.
Please note that the above information is provided for general purposes only and may not apply to your specific situation.