You have just been diagnosed with cancer. You will need to
decide which operation you will have. You may be in shock
at the diagnosis. This section aims to give you more information
to help you make your decision. Your choices will include:
- Just removing the lump plus some
tissue around it (to check for spread). Some surgeons will
prefer to take a wide excision (partial mastectomy) so they
can better establish whether the cancer has spread to the
tissue around the lump
- Breast conserving treatment (also known as a partial mastectomy,
lumpectomy, segmentectomy, segmental mastectomy or wide
excision). This will normally require radiation therapy
to the remaining breast tissue.
- Mastectomy- removal of the whole breast. The chest muscles
behind the breast are not removed. Radiation therapy will
not normally be needed.
- Bilateral mastectomy- some women
choose to have both breasts removed
- Removal of all lymph nodes or only the sentinel node (may
not always be an option). this is done in conjunction with
The best surgical treatment for you will depend on a number
of things. Every women is different and what is best for
one woman will not be suitable for another. You and your
surgeon should discuss all of the issues and come to a decision
together about the best treatment for you. The stories you
can access from this page and from the mastectomy and breast
conserving treatment pages will help you understand how and
why other women made their decisions. Use this link
to see the considerations in making the decision.
- Generally you have time - you don't need to rush your
decision (It has been estimated that a 1-centimetre tumour
may have been present for at least 7 years since it was
a single cancer cell). You will be told if this is not the
case and more urgent treatment is required.
- You do however have the right to rapid referrall and treatment
when cancer is diagnosed and should insist on this if concerned.
- It is your choice whether you decide to have a mastectomy,
rather than breast conserving treatment, based on what is
important to you
- The surgeon will recommend one or more options. It is
important to understand why he is recommending these in
making your decision
- Consider the sentinel node test to avoid lymphoedema if
this is available
- Decide what is most important to you - (life, lifestyle,
- Breast conserving treatment, where recommended has as
good a survival rate as mastectomy.
- Make sure you understand the risks and side effects of
breast surgery and how best to manage these