Breast Cancer Surgeries: Understanding the Differences

Mastectomy, Lumpectomy and Breast Reconstruction Procedures

Hospital Nurse showing a woman have had a mastectomy different external breast prostheses and post-operative bra, Department of Gynecology, Limoges hospital, France.

​There are many different types of surgeries used to treat breast cancer. The right surgery varies from patient to patient, based on the progress of the disease and many other factors. No one, other than your healthcare provider with full access to your health information, can determine what the best course of treatment is for your unique needs.

Breast Cancer and Surgery – From Diagnosis to Recovery

A mastectomy is the surgical removal of a breast or breast tissue.

Typically performed to treat or prevent cancer, there are many types of mastectomies performed to treat breast cancer, as well as the less-aggressive lumpectomy. The type of surgery performed is based upon the medical and emotional needs of the patient. It is also important to note that men may also require surgery as a treatment for gynecomastia, a condition where the breasts are larger than typical for a man, or as a breast cancer treatment.

Common Tests Performed Before Breast Cancer Surgery

If there is a diagnosis or even a suspicion of breast cancer, many tests may be ordered to determine if cancer is present, the progression of the disease and the best approach for treating the disease. A mammogram is a regularly scheduled test for women, but if the mammogram shows suspect areas in the breast, additional tests may be ordered:

Breast Cancer Stages and Surgery

The stage of the breast cancer, or the severity of the disease, dictates the necessary treatments. Breast cancer staging and surgical options explain how breast cancer is staged and what treatments are considered standard for each stage.

Men and Breast Cancer

Women are not alone in the diagnosis of breast cancer.

While men make up approximately 1% of all breast cancer patients, the disease is as serious for men as it is for women. Men may also choose to have a cosmetic mastectomy to treat gynecomastia.

Men & Mastectomy for Breast Cancer

Types of Mastectomy

  • Simple Mastectomy
  • Radical Mastectomy
  • Modified Radical Mastectomy

Additional Surgery Information for Breast Cancer Patients

  • Lumpectomy
  • Skin and Nipple Sparing Techniques Used During Mastectomy Surgeries

Reconstruction After Breast Cancer Surgery

The decision to have breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy for breast cancer is a very personal one. There are multiple types of reconstruction, and the decision to have reconstruction should be made prior to the mastectomy surgery.

Life After Breast Cancer Surgery

  • Depression After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

    Depression after the diagnosis of breast cancer and breast cancer surgery is a common problem. In fact, one study showed that almost half of all breast cancer patients experience depression in the year after diagnosis. Feeling down or sad is normal after a cancer diagnosis, but true depression, a more serious and long-lasting sadness, can hinder treatment and the ability to participate in healthcare decisions.

    Common Signs and Symptoms of Depression

  • Additional Treatments That May Be Recommended After Breast Cancer Surgery

    After a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, endocrine and targeted/biologic therapies may be recommended for ongoing treatment of cancer. In some cases, multiple treatments may be used, but they can be used independently.

  • Coping After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

    In addition to the normal stress of a cancer diagnosis and surgery, patients often have to deal with the insensitive comments of others. Learn how to deal with these comments with humor in 10 Snappy Comebacks to Insensitive Breast Cancer Comments.


Breast Cancer in Men. American Cancer Society 

Breast Cancer Treatment By Stage. American Cancer Society 

Breast Reconstruction. Susan G. Komen Foundation 

Depression and Anxiety in Women With Early Breast Cancer. Burgess, Cornelius, et al, British Medical Journal. 2005.

Radiation Therapy & You. National Institutes of Health

Signs and Symptoms of Depression. National Institutes of Health. 

Stages of Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer. Org.

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