A mastectomy is a breast cancer surgery to remove the breast. A lumpectomy is a breast-conservation surgery to remove a breast tumor and nearby tissue but not the entire breast.
In both cases, additional tissue near the breast — such as lymph nodes — may also be removed to prevent breast cancer from reoccurring.
Who Would Benefit From a Mastectomy or Lumpectomy?
Rush surgeons use mastectomies and lumpectomies to treat breast cancer or prevent cancer in women who have a high risk of developing the disease.
- Mastectomy: We typically recommend mastectomy if you have more advanced breast cancer, if you're small breasted with a large tumor or if you have a genetic mutation that increases your risk for cancer.
- Lumpectomy: This choice, also called breast conservation, is best if you have less advanced breast cancer or if targeted treatments have helped shrink your breast tumor.
Types of Mastectomies
Depending on the location and staging of your tumors, your surgeon will recommend the right mastectomy for you:
- A simple mastectomy, also called a total mastectomy, removes your whole breast and possibly lymph nodes from your underarm. With a simple mastectomy, you may be able to keep the outer skin of your breast (skin-sparing) or your nipple (nipple-sparing) to help with reconstruction.
- A modified radical mastectomy removes your entire breast and most of the lymph nodes from your underarm.
- A bilateral mastectomy, or double mastectomy, is the removal of both breasts. It is most of often used to reduce a woman's chance of getting breast cancer.
Recovery After Breast Cancer Surgery
Both mastectomies and lumpectomies are considered major surgeries completed under general anesthesia. Your hospital stay will likely be three days or less.
For single mastectomies, recovery is often four to six weeks. Recovery times can vary based on a number of factors, increasing if you had a double mastectomy and/or breast reconstruction. Your at-home recovery should include plenty of rest, pain management and arm exercises to prevent stiffness.
Breast Reconstruction Surgery Options
Unlike several decades ago, you can now choose to have breast reconstruction surgery, often at the time of your mastectomy or lumpectomy, to rebuild the shape of your breast. Numerous studies have found that reconstruction makes a significant positive impact on your mental health during breast cancer treatment.
Breast reconstruction surgeries at Rush are performed by skilled plastic and reconstructive surgeons who specialize in working with cancer patients. They will speak with you and your breast cancer surgeon about the reconstruction option that's right for you:
- Silicone or saline breast implants
- Tissue from another area of your body
- Oncoplastic breast reduction (following a lumpectomy)
Rush offers the most advanced options for conserving or rebuilding breasts that will make you feel like yourself. Our expert breast reconstruction surgery team will work closely with you to understand your goals for size, shape and appearance.
Rush Excellence in Mastectomy and Lumpectomy
- Patient-centered care team: Your breast cancer surgeon is part of a multidisciplinary breast cancer care team — including your oncologist and plastic surgeon — who collaborate to create your personalized plan of care. Often, you'll be able to meet with your team in single visits so you can understand how surgery fits into your overall treatment plan.
- Support during surgery and beyond: Rush offers many support services for breast cancer patients. These include psychological counseling, integrative therapies and social work services to navigate your needs and provide resources.
- Nurses trained in cancer care: Your post-surgery nursing team is specially trained to care for patients who have had cancer-related surgery. Not only do they understand the physical effects of surgery, but they will support you emotionally and socially as you recover.
- Advanced options for reconstruction: Rush experts offer leading-edge procedures for breast reconstruction after mastectomy or lumpectomy, including implants or free flaps that use your own tissue. Rush surgeons are pioneers in autologous breast reconstruction, with years of expertise in performing advanced microsurgical tissue-flap procedures. They're the most experienced team in the Chicago area for direct-to-implant reconstruction.