Breast Cancer Surgery

It is estimated 1 in 8 women will experience an abnormal mammogram in their lifetime. Fortunately, with breast cancer awareness at an all-time high, detection rates and survival have improved dramatically over the past several decades. In the majority of abnormal or inconclusive mammograms, a biopsy is indicated to determine if the breast abnormality is benign or malignant. Most abnormal or inconclusive mammograms involve something other than breast cancer.

Hearing you may need breast surgery is a frightening prospect and we strive to offer the safest and most effective procedures using conservative, breast-tissue-sparing options. Common breast-related diagnostic and treatment procedures may include:

  • Non-Cancer Surgery
  • Breast Cancer Surgery
  • Breast Conserving Surgery
  • Nipple Sparing Mastectomy
  • Breast Biopsy
  • Sentinel Node Biopsy
  • Breast Reconstructions (with a consulting plastic surgeon)

When breast surgery is required, we  aim to remove as little breast tissue as possible while ensuring any cancers cells are excised. The smaller the cancerous lesion, the greater the chance of sparing breast tissue. The most common breast cancer operations include:

Lumpectomy or Partial Mastectomy

For cancers caught in their earlier stages, this surgical option may be appropriate. The cancerous lesion as well as some healthy tissue around it is removed with the goal of eliminating the cancer while keeping cosmetic results in mind. Of course, there is a chance all of the cancerous tissue is not removed or there may exist yet-undetected growing lesions elsewhere in the breast which would require additional treatment. Most patients will undergo radiation therapy after surgery.


Removing the entire breast is called a mastectomy. A double mastectomy involves the removal of both breasts. Some mastectomies leave breast skin or alternately skin and nipples intact. These are known as skin sparing or nipple sparing mastectomies, respectively. Patients undergoing a mastectomy are also likely to receive further radiation or chemotherapy.

Modified Radical Mastectomy

A modified radical mastectomy is often used to remove breast tissue, some of the muscle behind the breast and lymph nodes, when appropriate. This is usually performed when the cancer has spread beyond the original tumor and into nearby bodily structures. Modified radical mastectomies have largely replaced full radical mastectomies due to the similar results and poor cosmetics of the latter.

Early stage breast cancer patients will often have a choice of procedures, and as such will be able to evaluate the benefits and risks of each path. A discussion, during consultation, with their surgeon will reveal the patient’s best course of action.

In some cases, patients with a family history of breast cancer may opt for a prophylactic mastectomy. This involves the removal of breast tissue as a preventative measure. This is a highly personal decision that must be made by the patient with their trusted clinicians, family and friends.

While breast cancer and resultant surgery can be a frightening prospect, we want our patients to know that we are there to support them, not only in the surgical realm, but also emotionally as they navigate a very difficult time in their lives. Modern medicine has made breast cancer an ever-more-survivable form of this insidious disease and we are proud to be at the cutting edge of treatment advances.