How to Choose Your Surgery to Help Remove Breast Cancer

If you have received a breast cancer diagnosis, you will probably feel very bewildered, overwhelmed, and afraid. However, you are in good hands, and treatment is available to you. You may need to have lumpectomy surgery in Los Angeles, although other operations may also be possible. Your healthcare team will help you navigate through the different options and help you make the right choice.

Breast Cancer Surgery

Generally speaking, breast cancer surgery will affect the breast and the armpit (axilla). In terms of the breast, there are two main options available:

  1. The lumpectomy, whereby only the lump itself and some of the surrounding tissue is removed.
  2. A mastectomy, whereby the entire breast is removed.

Think back 25 years, and breast cancer patients would always have a full mastectomy, even if they only had a small tumor. However, medical science has demonstrated that, in certain cases, lumpectomy treatment and radiation treatment is all that is needed, particularly with small cancers. Of course, the concept of “small” is quite relative.

With a lumpectomy, the goal is to leave the breast looking like a breast. If someone has a small cup size, then a lumpectomy may still mean taking most of their breast away, therefore. In this case, the cosmetic result would be unacceptable, which is why some people may still choose the mastectomy instead, opting for reconstructive surgery later. A key fact is also to determine how many cancers are present. If there is a multifocal cancer, which means the same breast is affected in at least two locations, then a mastectomy will be the recommended option.

During the breast surgery, be that mastectomy or lumpectomy, an operation is also carried out on the axilla, particularly if there is infiltrating (invasive) breast cancer. If there is ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), then the axilla will also be operated on. For this surgery, two options exist:

  1. The axillary node dissection, whereby more nodes, usually between eight and 25, are resected. This should be performed if it is suspected that the breast cancer has reached the lymph nodes.
  2. The sentinel node resection, whereby the breast cancer’s lymphatic drainage is mapped by the surgeon, finding the first node that actually receives the lymph. With this option, between one and three nodes will be removed. This is a good solution for cancers that are still small and in early stages, and if there is no spread to the axilla yet.

Of course, all of the above information serves as a guideline only. Every case of breast cancer is different, and what works for one person will not work on someone ese. This is why it is so important to work closely together with your multidisciplinary team in terms of being able to make the right treatment decisions. You have the right to choose what works for you and all that physicians and specialists can do is advise you on the best course of action.

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