Once breast cancer is diagnosed, your physician will make treatment plans to reduce the chance of the cancer returning in the breast or in other parts of the body. This will most likely include surgery, which can remove localized cancer (cancer that hasn't spread to other areas of the body) by eliminating the tumor itself and a portion of surrounding tissue, while conserving as much of the breast as possible.

Surgical techniques differ in the amount of breast tissue that is removed with the tumor based on the tumor's characteristics, whether it has spread (metastasized) and your personal feelings and health status. Some surgical treatment options performed at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital include:

  • Lumpectomy - the removal of the cancerous area along with a surrounding margin of normal tissue. A second incision may be made in order to remove the lymph nodes. This treatment aims to maintain a normal breast appearance after surgery. 
  • Modified Radical Mastectomy - the removal of the breast tissue, nipple, areola, underarm lymph nodes and the lining over the chest muscles. This surgery may also be referred to as a total, conservative or limited mastectomy.
  • Full or Complete Modified Radical Mastectomy - the removal of the breast, nipple, areolas, all three levels of lymph nodes, small chest muscle, the pectoralis minor, medial pectoral nerve and the lining over the chest wall muscle.
  • Simple or Prophylactic Mastectomy - the removal of the breast tissue, nipple, areola and some of the underarm lymph nodes.

After a mastectomy, patients may choose to wear external breast forms or pads, or choose breast reconstruction, using either breast implants or their own tissue. In the past, breast reconstruction was performed as a delayed procedure, but today, women have a choice to have immediate breast reconstruction. New medical techniques and devices have made it possible for St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital surgeons to create a breast that can come close in form and appearance to matching a natural breast. This allows a patient to wake up with a breast mound already in place, having been spared the experience of seeing herself with no breast at all.

For more information on breast surgery, please call the Breast Center Nurse Navigator at (813) 356-7117.