, , , ,

Lumpectomy vs. Mastectomy: Which Breast Cancer Treatment is Best for Women?

Friday, June 14, 2019 Leave a Comment

Women who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer might not be aware that there are different types of breast cancer treatment. Following a breast biopsy and breast cancer diagnosis, a surgeon will present women with two options: lumpectomy or mastectomy. But what is the difference between these two? Is one better than the other?

Lumpectomy vs. mastectomy

A lumpectomy is a surgery in which the goal is to conserve the breast. During the procedure, the abnormal (cancerous) tissue is removed, along with some of the surrounding normal breast tissue. With a lumpectomy, most of the breast is left intact.

A mastectomy is a procedure that involves removing the entire breast. The most common types of mastectomy surgeries are a nipple-sparing mastectomy and a skin-sparing mastectomy. Other types include a simple mastectomy and a modified radical mastectomy.

Following a mastectomy, a woman may choose to have breast reconstruction surgery. If a woman opts for reconstruction, she will meet with a breast reconstruction specialist (sometimes called a plastic surgeon) before her mastectomy.

Dr. Stephanie Miller, breast cancer surgeon at Colorado Total Breast Health, says that there have been many advancements in the field of breast surgery in recent years.

“If a woman needs to undergo a mastectomy, she might be eligible for surgical options that preserve the nipple, the areola or the breast skin,” Dr. Miller says. “These surgical techniques help with the breast reconstruction after the cancer is treated, resulting in a more natural look. It’s important for women to look and feel more like themselves following breast reconstruction surgery.”

Choosing the right breast cancer surgery option for you

For women diagnosed with breast cancer, deciding between a lumpectomy or mastectomy depends on multiple factors. If the cancer is in an early stage and limited to a specific area of the breast, a lumpectomy is usually the best surgical option. In some cases, a woman undergoes chemotherapy prior to surgery, which can decrease the size of the cancer and allow for a lumpectomy.

A surgeon may recommend a mastectomy if the tumor has spread throughout the entire breast or a woman has multiple tumors in different areas of the breast. A surgeon might also recommend a mastectomy in cases where a woman has inflammatory breast cancer or previously had high-dose radiation therapy to the affected breast.

Why some women opt for mastectomy

Along with surgical recommendations, there may be other reasons why a mastectomy might be the preferred choice for some women. If a woman has a genetic mutation that significantly increases her risk of a second breast cancer, she may decide to opt for a mastectomy. Also, for some women, the stress of preserving the breast and the anxiety caused by the experience of having breast cancer may be too much to handle. In these cases, a woman may choose to undergo a mastectomy.

There may be a range of personal reasons why a woman makes her decision. Regardless, women should always discuss their concerns about their breast cancer treatment with their surgeon and care team.

“We work with each patient to determine the best treatment plan for them, evaluating both their medical and psychological needs,” Dr. Miller says. “We create an individual treatment plan for each patient and highly value their input and personal choices.”

The importance of early detection in treating breast cancer

According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, survival rates for breast cancer are generally the same for lumpectomy (plus radiation) as they are for mastectomy. After a lumpectomy, there is a somewhat higher risk of developing a local recurrence of the cancer, but this can be treated successfully with mastectomy.

Colorado Total Breast Health provides resources and treatment options for patients with breast cancer, breast tumors and other health conditions related to breast health. One in every eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment is key, as these methods have increased the survival rate for breast cancer exponentially over the past 25 years. Talk to your doctor about your risk for breast cancer, mammogram screenings, and breast health.