Listen to your body. Be Aware.



Links to other sub topics in this section:

What are the surgical options in the treatment of breast cancer?

Broadly, surgery of breast cancer may be of the following two types:

Breast Conservation Surgery

As the name implies, in a breast conservation surgery, only the tumour, along with a surrounding margin of normal tissue of 1 cm is removed. The entire breast is not removed. After removal of the tumour, the wound is usually closed primarily. If primary closure of the wound is likely to leave an 'unacceptable' cosmetic appearacen, some form of reconstruction may also be done. This may include use of implants, or special cosmetic surgical techniques, which involve the transfer of muscles from other areas of body to the defect in breast to give it an acceptable shape.


Mastectomy implies the complete removal of the affected breast. After doing a mastectomy, as in a breast conserving surgery, cosmetic procedures can be done, including implants, muscle transfers etc. These cosmetic procedures are described in detail in the section on Reconstruction

Lymph Node dissection

Cancer in the breast spreads to the regional 'lymph nodes' which are located in the axilla. Three levels of nodes are described in the axilla, for breast cancer. If the lymph nodes are enlarged because of involvement with disease, they may be palpable in the axilla. These lymph nodes are located around the major blood vessels (artery and vein), which supply blood to the arm. A complete clearance of these lymph nodes (called as 'axillary dissection' ) is an integral part of both a breast conserving surgery or a mastectomy, and ensures a proper staging of the disease.