Everything You Never Thought You Wanted to Know About Breast Cancer Surgery
Total (or simple) mastectomy. The most common type, this is for women with multiple or large areas of invasive cancer and those seeking prophylactic mastectomies (to prevent the possibility of cancer). The surgeon removes the entire breast: the nipple, areola, and most of the overlying skin.
Modified radical mastectomy. For women with breast cancer that is locally advanced or inflammatory (a rare form in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast; it’s more common and diagnosed at younger ages in African Americans). The surgeon removes the nipple, areola, overlying skin, and some of the lymph nodes under the arm.
Radical mastectomy. Rarely performed today; instead a patient will likely be given chemo or endocrine therapy to shrink the tumor before a less invasive surgery is performed. The surgeon removes the nipple, areola, overlying skin, lymph nodes under the arm, and chest muscles under the breast.
Skin-sparing mastectomy. For women having reconstruction. The surgeon removes the tissue, nipple, and areola but saves most of the skin of the breast—to be filled with an implant or tissue from the woman’s body. Not recommended for women with tumors that are large or near the skin surface.