Breast Health Center

Breast Surgery

There are several types of surgical procedures used to treat breast cancer. Your surgeon will discuss these options with you and develop an individualized plan of care, taking into consideration your unique needs and desired cosmetic results.

Surgical Options
Breast conservation (also known as lumpectomy):
A surgeon removes the tumor and a small margin of surrounding tissue.

A surgeon removes the breast or breasts. The type of mastectomy is defined by the amount of tissue removed.

  • Total (or simple) mastectomy, where the breast tissue, nipple and areola are removed.
  • Skin-sparing mastectomy, used during a total (or simple) mastectomy. Skin is saved to accommodate tissue-expander breast reconstruction.
  • Nipple-sparing mastectomy, where the surgeon removes the breast tissue but spares the nipple and areola. This surgery is performed in conjunction with breast reconstruction. Not all women are candidates for this type of mastectomy.

Lymph Node Considerations
Your surgeon will also discuss the evaluation of your lymph nodes during your breast surgery. Lymph nodes are often removed during breast surgery to determine if cancer cells are present.

You may have one of the following:

Sentinel lymph node biopsy:
A radioactive substance and a blue dye are injected into the breast tissue. The radioactive substance and dye are carried to the lymph nodes by your lymph fluid and allow your surgeon to identify your sentinel lymph nodes or those closest to your tumor. The surgeon removes these lymph nodes, and a pathologist tests them to determine if cancer cells are present.

Axillary lymph node dissection:
If cancer cells are found in multiple lymph nodes during a sentinel lymph node biopsy, it may be necessary to remove additional lymph nodes. A dissection is the removal of all of the lymph nodes under the arm.

Reconstructive Surgery
As part of your surgical plan, your surgeon may discuss your options for breast reconstruction. Reconstructive surgery can play an important role in restoring your body image and emotional well-being after a breast cancer diagnosis. If you would like to pursue breast reconstruction, your surgeon will refer you to one of our plastic surgeons to discuss your options.

Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare Network

This site is part of the Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare network of Web sites, which covers a variety of topics using the same philosophy: When it comes to medical care, we know that you have a lot of options. And we want you to know that you're more than a patient to us. You're an individual. We would appreciate the opportunity to provide you with state-of-the-art medical care and down-to-earth, personalized attention.

Get our classes & events newsletter

View more Newsletters