MASTECTOMIES: A mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast and is normally suggested for women with a large tumor in the breast, or when multiple attempts to remove the tumor through a lumpectomy have not been able to completely remove the cancer. Women with a high risk of breast cancer will sometimes have a preventative mastectomy to reduce their risk of developing the cancer and for peace of mind.
TYPES: There are four types of mastectomy that can performed:
"Simple" or "total" mastectomy is when the entire breast, including the nipple, is removed. The lymph nodes are not removed, although sometimes they are located in the breast tissue and are taken out with it. No muscles are removed either.
Modified radical mastectomy is when the lymph nodes are removed as well as the entire breast. Axillary lymph node dissection is performed so that the underarm lymph nodes can be examined to see if the cancer has spread.
Radical mastectomy involves the removal of the entire breast, the underarm lymph nodes, and the chest wall muscles underneath the breast. This is the most extensive mastectomy and is only suggested when the cancer has spread to the muscles underneath the breast. It is now rarely performed.
Subcutaneous mastectomy is performed less often than total mastectomies because the chances of the cancer returning are higher. This is when all of the breast tissue is removed but the nipple is left.
RECONSTRUCTION: Reconstruction of the breast (or breasts) after a mastectomy is common. In "immediate reconstruction" the breasts are reconstructed in the same operation in which the breasts are removed, though some women wait until months after the surgery to do breast reconstruction. Different techniques exist including using tissue from another part of the body, an implant, or both. However, if further radiation is needed, doctors suggest waiting until radiation treatment is complete. (Source: