At some point during their lives, approximately 39.6% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer. For many, treatments such as cancer radiation treatment and chemotherapy can reduce cancer into remission where it will hopefully remain. For others, surgery is another highly effective option as a means of removing cancerous tissue or tumors from the affected area.
In the case of breast cancer treatment, a mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast. There are five different types of mastectomy:
- A simple mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast and nipple while leaving the muscle and lymph nodes of the breast in tact. The is the most common form of mastectomy.
- A double mastectomy is similar to a simple mastectomy with the exception that both breasts are removed.
- A skin-sparing mastectomy is performed in the chance that the breast cancer sufferer desires breast reconstruction. The breast tissue removed during surgery is the same as it would be during a simple mastectomy; however, the amount of skin covering the breast is left attached for the purpose of breast reconstruction utilizing implants or other body tissue.
- A nipple-sparing mastectomy can be performed if the breast cancer sufferer has a tumor or small cancer near the skin. However, if the cancer is located deeper in the breast or near the nipple, the nipple will not be able to be spared as there is a greater risk of the cancer cells returning after surgery. Like a skin-sparing mastectomy, a nipple-sparing mastectomy is typically done if the breast cancer sufferer desires breast reconstruction after the cancerous tissue has been removed. However, it should be noted that although the nipple may be saved and reconstructed to the breast, there will be no feeling or very little feeling left.
- Finally, yet more rare, is the radical mastectomy, which is a removal of the breast as well as the lymph nodes under the arm and the pectoral muscles. This surgery is only performed in a surgery center if the entire area beneath the breast has been affected by the cancer. However, a modified radical mastectomy only removes the lymph nodes beneath the breast along with the breast tissue, leaving the pectoral muscles intact.
After your mastectomy in a surgery center, you can expect a hospital stay up to 2 nights if there have been no complications and depending on the kind of mastectomy that was performed. Common symptoms include limited movement in the arm and shoulder, chest pain, swelling, and numbness where the surgery was performed in the surgery center. The majority of mastectomy patients were able to return to their daily routine in as little as 4 weeks with physical rehabilitation. However, it will take many months for full recovery and for the scars to heal.
The surgery center in which you’ll have your surgery, or your cancer care center, will be able to provide you with more specific information regarding your mastectomy. Be sure to contact your doctor or physician with any questions or concerns you may have.
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