The mastectomy explained

The mastectomy explained

Breast cancer is a difficult topic to discuss, especially if someone you know has just been diagnosed with it or is struggling with their journey. At CIRALU, we want to help by explaining some of the basics in a simple and accurate way. While we are not doctors or experts, we will do our best to provide you with the information you need. If you require more in-depth knowledge, we recommend visiting, where you can find a wealth of information and resources.

mastectomy explained

What is a mastectomy?

A mastectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing all the breast tissue, and sometimes the skin and surrounding muscles, from a breast. It is used to treat or prevent breast cancer.

Why is it done?

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or are at high risk of developing it, a mastectomy may be necessary to remove all the breast tissue to prevent the cancer from spreading further. You may have a unilateral mastectomy to remove one breast or a bilateral mastectomy to remove both breasts.

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Types of Mastectomy

There are several types of mastectomy: Standard Mastectomy: This involves removing all the breast tissue and most of the skin covering it.

Skin-sparing Mastectomy: This involves removing all the breast tissue, including the nipple, but leaving most of the skin covering the breast intact.

Nipple-sparing Mastectomy: This is a skin-sparing mastectomy where the nipple is not removed.

Radical Mastectomy: This is a rare procedure that involves removing all the breast tissue, skin covering it, the two muscles behind the breast, and the lymph nodes in the armpit.

Modified Radical Mastectomy: This is similar to a radical mastectomy, but the larger of the two pectoral muscles behind the breast is left intact. This surgery involves removing most of the breast tissue and skin, and the nipple.

Why Mastectomy instead of Lumpectomy plus Radiation?

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several reasons why a doctor might recommend a mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy plus radiation. Ultimately, the choice is up to the patient. Here are a few reasons:

  • You have two or more tumors in separate areas of the breast.
  • You have widespread or malignant-appearing calcium deposits (microcalcifications) throughout the breast that have been determined to be cancer after a breast biopsy.
  • You've previously had radiation treatment to the breast region, and the breast cancer has recurred in the breast.
  • You're pregnant, and radiation poses an unacceptable risk to your unborn child.
  • You've had a lumpectomy, but cancer is still present at the edges (margin) of the operated area, and there is concern about cancer extending to elsewhere in the breast.
  • You carry a gene mutation that gives you a high risk of developing a second cancer in your breast.
  • You have a large tumor relative to the overall size of your breast. You may not have enough healthy tissue left after a lumpectomy to achieve an acceptable cosmetic result.
  • You have a connective tissue disease, such as scleroderma or lupus, and may not tolerate the side effects of radiation to the skin.

Throughout October, we will be featuring a series of interviews and Instagram Live sessions to help explain the mastectomy journey in small, easy-to-understand segments. Join us as we explore this important topic together.

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