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Modified Mastectomy

Written by Amy Hall
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What Is A Modified Mastectomy?

A modified mastectomy removes the entire breast and includes a procedure called axillary dissection, in which levels 1 and 2 ( of three levels) of the axillary lymph nodes in the underarm area are removed. Most women who have mastectomies today have modified radical mastectomies. The reason for this is that it has been proven to be just as effective and less disfiguring as the radical mastectomy, which removes the entire breast, the muscle underneath, and all the axillary lymph nodes.

Today, radical mastectomy is only recommended when the patient has cancer that has spread to the underlying muscle, and out through the lymph nodes in the chest and armpit regions. A modified mastectomy may be right for you if cancer is found in more than one part of the breast. Also, if your breast is small or shaped so that a lumpectomy would leave you with little breast tissue or a very deformed breast.

Determining Factors

Only your doctor can give you the proper advice about which type of surgery you will need to effectively remove your breast cancer. You may not be a good candidate for radiation therapy, which will make a mastectomy the better choice for you. However, every case of breast cancer is different, and you will need to weight the pros and cons of the different treatment options before taking any one course of action.

Radiation may be recommended after a mastectomy if the tumor is larger than five centimeters, or if the removed tissue has a positive margin of resection. If four or more lymph nodes are involved, or if the cancer is multi-centered (meaning it occured in a number of locations within the breast), radiation therapy may be recommended following your surgery. Fortunately for women today, breast cancer treatments have become so advanced that the number of deaths due to this disease have gone down.

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