A simple mastectomy is the removal of all breast tissue, without any axillary lymph node dissection. A radical mastectomy is a simple mastectomy with a full axillary lymph node dissection. With a simple mastectomy the surgeon will remove all breast tissue including skin and nipple in order to ensure that all the cancer cells are removed. The need for a mastectomy is based on various factors including breast size, number of lesions, biologic aggressiveness of the cancer, the availability of adjuvant radiation, a patient’s personal values and tolerance for any risk factors.
You may wish to have breast reconstruction at the time of mastectomy in an immediate reconstruction, or at a later date once the chest has healed, called delayed reconstruction. Many people have no breast reconstruction and possibly celebrate their body in another way, with a prosthesis, tattoos or going fabulously natural.
Patients should consult with an oncoplastic surgeon or a plastic surgeon, before any surgery to remove the breast tissue, to identify and discuss the options available to them.
If adjuvant chemotherapy is recommended, it will follow a mastectomy. If both radiation and chemotherapy are offered, radiation will likely follow chemotherapy.