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Total Mastectomy

Written by Amy Hall
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Breast Cancer Options

A total mastectomy is just one option for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. In a simple or total mastectomy, the entire breast is removed, but the axillary lymph nodes are left intact. Not removing the lymph nodes improves the patients chances of not developing such conditions as lymphedema of the arm.

It used to be standard protocol for a breast cancer patient to have a mastectomy as the primary mode of treatment. However, many surgeons today will perform a lumpectomy, where only the tumor and affected lymph nodes are removed. The goal is to remove the breast cancer completely, while still keeping as much of the breast intact as possible.

The Total Mastectomy Procedure

Breast cancer surgery is not the type of operation any one looks forward to receiving. However, it is often the only reliable and effective way to completely get rid of the cancer before it spreads to other organs. Women who undergo a total mastectomy do not lose any of the chest muscles, and are often good candidates for immediate reconstruction.

The lymph nodes that may get removed with this type of surgery are the nodes located within the breast tissue itself. There will not be any lymph nodes removed from the armpit region, which cuts down on the woman developing lymphedema. Lymphedema is a condition that involves swelling of the extremities, which results from lymph nodes being removed during cancer surgery.

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