When women are diagnosed with breast cancer, they face new questions they never thought they’d need to answer. One of the first questions they need to answer together with their oncologist is which type of surgery would best suit their situation and whether it’s optimal to keep or remove the breast.
Most women assume that they need to have a full removal of the breast, or mastectomy, to have the best chance of survival, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Partial mastectomies—also known as a lumpectomy—typically have the same long-term outcome as a full mastectomy as long as a regime of radiation follows surgery. Depending on the size of the tumor and stage of cancer, you may be able to choose between full or partial removal of the breast, so let’s take a look at some factors to consider for both options.
Many women who choose to remove the breast do so for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the cancer and whole breast are removed. For other women whose cancer is large or has spread to the skin, a mastectomy is the clear choice to successfully fight breast cancer. Whether a mastectomy is your choice or not, the good news is that you may be eligible for innovative surgical techniques, such as a Nipple Sparing Mastectomy, should you choose them.
With a Nipple Sparing Mastectomy and reconstructive implants, the surgeon uses a Hidden Scar procedure to hide the incision in the crease at the bottom of your breast. Nearly all the breast tissue is removed while the outside of your nipple is left in place. The breast is then reconstructed with an implant with the goal that the reconstructed breast will hide the surgical scar. Today’s implants are softer and more supple than in the past, so your breast should look more natural, and with your nipple intact, you will see a normal breast in the mirror.
Also referred to as breast conserving surgery (BCS) or a partial mastectomy, the goal of a lumpectomy is to remove the cancer as well as some surrounding normal tissue. How much of the breast is removed depends on the size and location of the tumor and other factors. In some cases, some of your underarm lymph nodes may need to be removed as well.
If you’re a candidate for a Hidden Scar procedure, the surgeon will make the incision in a hard to see location, such as the natural crease beneath the breast, along the edges of the areola, or in the natural fold of the armpit. Your scar most likely won’t be as visible once your incision heals
If you’re faced with the choice of whether to keep or remove your breast, know that there’s no wrong answer once we’ve taken into account how to best eradicate the cancer. Our experienced team will discuss with you the type and extent of your breast cancer and which surgical options to consider for both your comfort and a successful outcome.
Dr. Aaron Margulies has a solo practice in Breast Surgical Oncology and General Surgery with an office at Tennova Turkey Creek Medical Center in West Knoxville, at Tennova North Knoxville Medical Center in Powell, at Jefferson Memorial Hospital and in Morristown. His extensive research and expertise in the most advanced surgical treatments of breast cancer have distinguished him as a leader in the field. To learn more about Dr. Margulies’ compassionate surgical care approach, visit www.aaronmd.com, or request a consultation online, or call (865) 692-1610.