Breast Cancer: Where does surgery come in?

Breast cancer remains the leading type of cancer impacting women. One in eight will be affected during the course of their lifetime. After a diagnosis of cancer is made, the available treatment options can seem overwhelming. The treatment approach will vary based on size, tumor markers, and extent of the disease. For most types of breast cancer, surgery plays a vital role in the overall treatment approach. It may be performed as the sole treatment modality, or in combination with chemotherapy/radiation/hormone therapy.

Surgical options for the treatment of breast cancer may include a mastectomy or lumpectomy. A mastectomy involves the complete removal of all breast tissue. Reconstruction following a mastectomy is an option for many, but it often means undergoing additional surgeries with a longer overall recovery. The timing for reconstruction can be either immediate or delayed, and it may involve use of an implant or flap. A lumpectomy, or breast-conserving therapy, is removal of only a portion of the breast. The goal of a lumpectomy is to remove the cancer, along with a small portion of surrounding breast tissue. This allows the patient to keep the majority of their breast tissue, while still performing an adequate cancer operation. This usually requires radiation to be given following surgery. Overall, survival is the same, regardless of which option you choose.

With both surgical approaches, it is likely that a sentinel lymph node biopsy will be performed. This evaluates the first lymph nodes that the breast drains to for any cancer that may have spread. If cancer is found within the lymph node, additional lymph nodes may need to be removed.

We know that a new diagnosis of breast cancer can be a very scary and uncertain time. If you or someone you know has questions or would like to further discuss surgical options regarding breast cancer, please contact Mowery Clinic at 785.827.7261.

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