Surgical removal of the tumor is a common treatment for breast cancer.
There are a number of surgical techniques, and your doctor will help you decide which is best for your situation.
In addition to removing your breast tissue, it may be necessary to remove some or all of the lymph nodes under your arm.
Before the procedure, an intravenous line will be started and you may be given an oral sedative to help you relax.
Breast surgery usually requires general anesthesia.
A breathing tube will be inserted through your mouth and into your throat,
and you will be given medications to put you to sleep for the duration of the procedure.
Depending on the type of procedure, breast cancer surgery usually takes one to three hours.
The main surgical procedures are lumpectomy and mastectomy.
A lumpectomy preserves the appearance of the breast.
The tumor, along with a margin of surrounding tissue, is removed.
In this procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in the skin
and separate the tumor and a margin of healthy tissue from the breast with a scalpel.
Then, your surgeon will remove the mass with forceps,
send it to the pathology lab for examination, and close the wound with sutures.
In a mastectomy, the entire breast is removed.
This is usually indicated when the tumor is too large for a lumpectomy.
In a simple mastectomy, only your breast tissue is removed.
Your surgeon will begin by making an incision around your nipple.
He or she will then separate your breast tissue from the muscle underneath and remove it for examination.
Finally, your surgeon will insert drains to prevent fluid collection, before closing the wound.
The most common type of mastectomy is a modified radical mastectomy,
in which the entire breast and some or all of the lymph nodes under your arm are removed.
In this procedure, your surgeon will make an incision along the length of your breast,
separate your breast tissue from the muscle underneath, and remove it for examination.
To remove the lymph nodes under your arm, many surgeons use a technique called sentinel node biopsy.
In this procedure, dye is injected into your breast to determine which lymph nodes drain fluid first.
It is these lymph nodes that are most likely to contain cancer.
Your surgeon will remove one to three of these lymph nodes for examination,
insert drains, and close the wound with sutures.
In a radical mastectomy, the breast, underlying tissue, muscle beneath the breast, and all visible lymph nodes are all removed.
Your surgeon will begin by making an incision along the length of the breast.
Next, he or she will separate all of the breast tissue, muscle from the chest wall and visible lymph nodes, and remove them for examination.
Finally, your surgeon will insert drains before closing the wound.
After your breast surgery, your breathing tube will be removed and you will be taken to the recovery area for monitoring.
Lumpectomies are often done as outpatient procedures.
In this case, you will be able to leave the hospital after several hours.
If your surgery is done as an inpatient, your doctor will generally have you remain in the hospital for one to two days to monitor your recovery.
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