Breast cancer surgery

The aim of surgery is to remove the cancer with a margin of healthy breast tissue.

Partial mastectomy preserves the breast and is technically possible in many cases of early breast cancer. You will need to have a course of radiotherapy after surgery to reduce the risk of cancer cells growing again in the future. Cosmetic outcome is influenced by the size and location of the cancer relative to the size and shape of the breast.

One attractive option for some women with large / heavy breasts is to combine partial mastectomy with a breast reduction procedure. This allows for wide excision of the tumour and makes radiotherapy easier. It also relieves the chronic musculoskeletal symptoms associated with heavy breasts.

Some cancers are not suitable for breast conserving surgery and will require a full mastectomy. In these cases I will discuss breast reconstruction options with you. Reconstruction can either be performed at the time of mastectomy or at a later date once your cancer treatment is complete.

In cases of invasive breast cancer we will also need to test the lymph nodes under your arm to check if these are affected by the cancer. Axillary dissection is an operation that removed some of the lower nodes for testing. Sentinel node biopsy is a new technique that can reduce the extent of axillary surgery for many women.

In some cases it may be necessary to consider a balancing operation on the other breast to achieve a good cosmetic result. This may involve a breast reduction, breast lift or even an augmentation procedure. Whilst this is not a critical part of the cancer surgery it can significantly improve the postoperative recovery and cosmetic outcome - factors that are an integral part of modern breast cancer surgery.

You will need adequate time to consider these various options and to decide what is going to be best for you.

 
Breast Care Book

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Meet the Surgeon

Trevor Smith MBChB FCS

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