Breast Surgery

Breast surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer and may be an important part of your cancer treatment plan:

  • It may be preventive, diagnostic, involve removing a cancerous breast tumor, help relieve symptoms, or be reconstructive.
  • Breast surgery may be used as a primary treatment or in conjunction with other treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
  • Breast surgery may be performed before or after other treatments. Today’s advancements in surgical techniques offer many patients less invasive surgery options.

Your physician can help you determine whether you need surgery and, if so, what type. The two primary types of breast cancer surgery include breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy [link to mastectomy page]. Following a mastectomy, there are surgical options to reconstruct the breast. Breast reconstruction aims to restore the tissue to a normal appearance.

In some cases, your physician may recommend surgically removing one or more of your lymph nodes to determine if the breast cancer has spread. The two primary lymph node surgeries are sentinel lymph node biopsy and axillary lymph node dissection.

While recovering from breast surgery, women may experience the following side effects:

  • Pain and tenderness
  • Swelling at surgery site
  • Bruising
  • Seroma, collection of fluids under the surface of skin
  • Limited arm or shoulder movement
  • Numbness in chest or upper arm
  • Nerve pain in chest, armpit or arm
  • Bleeding at surgery site
  • Infection at surgery site

Your breast surgeon will talk with you about ways to minimize side effects.