What Is A Mastectomy

Breast cancer is a big health concern for many adult women since it affects millions of women around the world each year, often in life-threatening ways. Regular breast exams are one of the absolute musts when it comes to preventative care for women. As we like to say, there are two things every adult should do: get a cancer screening and schedule an estate planning consultation with a firm like Keating Law, PLC. You never know what life is going to throw at you.

A mastectomy is one of the commonest treatments prescribed to women that develop breast cancer. It is a surgical procedure for removing either one or both breasts including the breast tissue and sometimes even tissue from the area surrounding the breasts.

A mastectomy is an invasive procedure but unlike other conditions where surgery is usually the last resort, breast cancer does not have many other less invasive treatments. People often find mastectomies less invasive than radiation treatment and chemotherapy although both are often used.

What are the Types of Mastectomies?

Simple Mastectomy: It is also referred to as total mastectomy and is the most common type. One complete breast is removed, but the muscles and lymph nodes beneath the breast are typically left intact. It is usually a one-day procedure.

Double Mastectomy: It is a procedure where both of the breasts are removed. A second breast may be removed sometimes as a precaution in case the other one develops cancer.

Radical Mastectomy: It is a procedure that involves removing every part of the breast including the chest muscles and lymph nodes under the breast. It is not very common since it is more invasive.

Skin Sparing Mastectomy: It is a procedure where the skin over the breast is left in its normal form. Implants are typically used to replace the breast tissue removed below the skin.

Modified Radical Mastectomy: It is a simple mastectomy that also involves the removal of lymph nodes under the arm.

Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy: It is similar to the skin sparing mastectomy and is usually reserved for women in the early stages of cancer. The breast tissue is usually removed, but the nipple is left intact.

Why Go For a Mastectomy?

Mastectomy is almost always used as a cancer treatment either for the removal of cancer already present or preventing future cancer in breasts. Mastectomies can be used to treat many forms of cancer including:

– Breast Cancer i.e. Stage I, Stage II or the early stages

– Breast cancer i.e. Stage III or Advanced stage

– Paget’s Disease

– Inflammatory Breast Cancer (Usually comes after unsuccessful chemotherapy treatment)


A mastectomy can be the ideal solution in several situations especially when radiation or chemotherapy are not an option. Preventative mastectomies are also quite common especially when cancer is present in one breast and not the other, so both breasts are removed to avoid the risk of cancer spreading to the healthy breast.

The Bottom Line

A mastectomy is a surgical procedure usually recommended for those that are either at a high risk of developing breast cancer or have already been diagnosed with it. Many factors help both you and your breast surgeon to determine whether a mastectomy is your best option, so consult your doctor/surgeon to find out whether this is the case.

If you are interested in learning more about mastectomies, this video should help you out: