Fellowship trained breast surgical oncologists Betsy Washburn, MD, and Takeyla Williams, MD, provide surgical treatment for breast cancer and nurse practitioners Angela Reich, WHNP-BC, and Casey Waddle, FNP-C, provide pre and post-surgical breast care.
Breast cancer surgery is a common treatment option for patients diagnosed with breast cancer. The specific type of surgery recommended depends on various factors, including the size and stage of the tumor, the presence of lymph node involvement, and the individual's overall health. Common breast surgical procedures include:
- Lumpectomy - Also known as breast-conserving surgery or partial mastectomy, a lumpectomy involves the removal of the tumor and a small margin of surrounding healthy breast tissue. This procedure aims to preserve the breast while effectively treating the cancer. After a lumpectomy, radiation therapy is often recommended to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
- Mastectomy - A mastectomy involves the complete removal of the breast tissue. There are different types of mastectomies:
- Total or simple mastectomy - Removal of the entire breast tissue, including the nipple and areola but not the lymph nodes.
- Modified radical mastectomy - Removal of the entire breast tissue, including the nipple and areola, along with the removal of some of the underarm lymph nodes.
- Radical mastectomy - This procedure is rarely performed nowadays. It involves the removal of the entire breast tissue, including the nipple and areola, as well as the chest muscles and underarm lymph nodes.
- Skin-sparing mastectomy - Removal of the breast tissue while preserving the breast skin. This can facilitate breast reconstruction later.
- Nipple-sparing mastectomy - Removal of the breast tissue while preserving the nipple and areola. It is often done in combination with breast reconstruction.
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy - During this procedure, the surgeon identifies and removes the sentinel lymph node(s) — the first few lymph nodes to which cancer is most likely to spread. This helps determine if the cancer has spread beyond the breast and helps guide further treatment decisions.
- Axillary lymph node dissection - In cases where cancer is more advanced or has spread to the lymph nodes, the surgeon may recommend removing more lymph nodes in the armpit (axilla) to assess the extent of lymph node involvement.
Breast cancer surgery is part of a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, which may also include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these treatments. The specific treatment plan is tailored to each individual's unique situation and determined by a team of healthcare professionals specializing in breast cancer care.