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.
Some men who require a mastectomy for breast cancer may also choose to have a type of reconstruction that reduces the unaffected breast to increase symmetry of the chest. Considering the smaller volume and the shape of the male breast tissue, reconstruction is unlikely on the breast affected by breast cancer. Patients should consult with an oncoplastic surgeon or a plastic surgeon, before any surgery to remove the breast tissue, to identify and discuss any options available to them.
If adjuvant chemotherapy is recommended, it will follow a simple mastectomy. If both radiation and chemotherapy are offered, radiation will likely follow chemotherapy.
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Learn more about nipple-sparing mastectomies vs. conventional and skin-sparing.
Radical Mastectomy Procedure • PreOp® Patient Education & Patient Engagement
Learn more about radical mastectomy surgery and information on what to expect prior to surgery.
What is Breast Reconstruction | Overview
Learn more about the different options for breast reconstruction (both immediate and delayed).
Mastectomy Breast Reconstructions Options:
Learn more about the breast reconstruction process following surgery.