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, the ability to use 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. Patients should consult with a breast surgical oncologist or a plastic surgeon, before any surgery to remove the breast tissue, to identify and discuss any options available to them.
Many people have no breast reconstruction and possibly celebrate their body in another way, with a prosthesis, tattoos or going fabulously natural.
If adjuvant chemotherapy is recommended, it will follow a simple mastectomy. If both radiation and chemotherapy are offered, radiation will likely follow chemotherapy.