Breast Cancer Surgery Options

Most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer will face a difficult decision about whether to remove just a portion of their breast that contains the tumor or to remove the entire breast. Removing the tumor is called a lumpectomy, while removing the entire breast is called mastectomy.

It can be a difficult choice, and women should weigh both personal and medical factors. For instance, while a lumpectomy preserves the breasts, it may require radiation therapy and follow-up visits. And while a mastectomy treats the cancer aggressively, you may want breast reconstruction surgery which can be a lengthy and sometimes uncomfortable process.

Emotional factors play in as well. Many women may choose a mastectomy, believing that they need that to have the best chance of survival when research shows that other treatment, such as a lumpectomy followed by radiation is just as effective for their particular cancer.

While no one can make the choice for you, your Adena cancer team can help you navigate the decision-making process. Start by printing out the questions below and discuss them with your oncologist as well as your patient navigator.

The more information you have, the easier it will be to determine which treatment plan is best for you.

  • What are my treatment options, and which do you recommend for my specific case?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of each possible treatment course?
  • Will I have a sentinel node biopsy (used to determine if the cancer has spread), and how accurate will it be?
  • Am I a candidate for a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy?
  • After surgery, will I require additional treatment, such as radiation, chemotherapy or hormonal therapy? Do I need to see an oncologist who specializes in one of these treatments? How often will I need to come in for further treatment or visits? Can I get the treatments at Adena?
  • What do I need to know about breast reconstruction? Can it be performed at the same time as my surgery, or separately? Who will perform it? What techniques do you use to minimize pain?
  • What are my options if I decide against breast reconstruction? Are breast prostheses available?
  • Is there a clinical trial for patients with my type of breast cancer?
  • How soon do I need to decide on a treatment?
  • What will my insurance cover, from surgery to follow-up treatments to reconstruction or prostheses?
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