What is a mastectomy?
A mastectomy is surgery to remove one or both breasts.
Who is mastectomy suitable for?
A mastectomy is suitable for women who have previously had radiation therapy to the affected breast, and/or have two or more cancer tumours in the same breast. Women who have had a partial mastectomy where the cancer was not completely removed are also suitable, as well as women with connective tissue diseases such as scleroderma. Pregnant women who require radiation are also suitable for a mastectomy, along with women with a tumour that is large relative to her breast size. Male breast cancer patients will also be offered a mastectomy.
Why is a mastectomy done?
A mastectomy is done when it is necessary for all of the breast tissue to be removed.
What is the process?
A mastectomy typically can take 2 – 3 hours. The mastectomy incision will generally be in the shape of an oval around the nipple and across the width of the breast. Once the incision is made the breast tissue is separated from the chest muscle and the overlying skin, and all of the breast tissue is removed. Part of your chest muscle may also be removed, along with any lymph nodes that may be affected.
During the final stages of mastectomy surgery your surgeon will insert surgical drains which collect excess fluid from the area where the tumour was located. Your surgeon will suture the incision closed and a close fitting bandage will be wrapped around your chest.