Surgery is the first option for most breast cancer patients. UVA Cancer Center breast surgeons specialize in treating breast cancer. In fact, they only treat breast cancer patients.
Breast-conserving surgery involves an operation to remove the cancer but not the breast itself. It can be done in multiple ways:
- Lumpectomy: Surgery to remove a tumor (lump) and a small amount of normal tissue around it.
- Partial mastectomy: Surgery to remove the part of the breast that has cancer and some normal tissue around it. The lining over the chest muscles below the cancer may also be removed.
Axillary Surgery (Lymph Node Biopsy or Removal)
Patients who are treated with breast-conserving surgery may also have some of the lymph nodes under the arm removed for biopsy. This procedure is called lymph node dissection. It may be done at the same time as the breast-conserving surgery or after. Lymph node dissection is done through a separate incision.
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB): Involves the removal of a small number of primary lymph nodes and is used to determine the stage and extent of breast cancer and to guide other treatments.
- Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND): Includes removal of most of the lymph nodes under the arm and is used to stage and treat breast cancer.
- Total mastectomy: Surgery to remove the whole breast that has cancer. This procedure is also called a simple mastectomy. Some of the lymph nodes under the arm may be removed for biopsy at the same time as the breast surgery or after. This is done through a separate incision.
- Modified radical mastectomy: Surgery to remove the whole breast that has cancer, many of the lymph nodes under the arm, the lining over the chest muscles, and sometimes, part of the chest wall muscles. Read more about mastectomies.
- There are many types of breast reconstruction. One example is perforator flap reconstruction (also called DIEP flap), which uses excess fatty tissue from the abdomen to reconstruct the breast.
- Reconstruction is often done along with breast cancer treatment surgery, eliminating the need for separate surgeries.
Find out more about breast reconstruction.
Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.