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Breast Cancer Surgery

Today, women undergoing treatment for breast cancer may select from a greater variety of options than ever before. Listed below are key terms related to the types of procedures and range of options related to surgical treatment of breast cancer.

To help choose the most effective surgical option from the list below, the doctor may recommend having a breast MRI.

Surgical options Include:

  • Biopsy - Removal and examination of a sample of abnormal tissue to reach a diagnosis.
  • Lumpectomy/partial masectomy - Breast cancer surgery that removes just the tumor, plus a surrounding margin of healthy tissue to be examined for cancer cells. Click here to view a multimedia Lumpectomy
  • Mastectomy - Surgical removal of the breast tissue, nipple and areola.
  • Mastectomy with reconstruction - Surgical removal of the breast tissue, nipple and areola with immediate or delayed restoration of breast volume and shape using breast implants or tissue from another part of the body.
  • Needle or wire-guided localization - Placement of a guide wire in the breast during a mammogram or ultrasound to pinpoint the area to be surgically removed.
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy - Removal of the sentinel lymph node(s) for examination under a microscope. Because the sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node to which lymphatic fluid drains from the area of a tumor, spreading cancer cells are likely to show up here first. If the sentinel lymph node is free of cancer, the other nodes do not need to be removed and examined, and surgery is minimized.
  • Axillary dissection - Surgical removal of lymph nodes in the armpit (axilla) area.

For more information on breast cancer surgery, see:
Know the Facts: Understanding Breast Surgery