Mastectomy is the surgical removal of all breast tissue. This procedure is used to treat breast cancer and sometimes to help prevent it in patients who are at high risk. It may be performed on one or both breasts. Other nearby tissues, such as lymph nodes, may also be removed to determine whether cancer cells have spread.

Some breast cancer patients can choose between a mastectomy and a lumpectomy, where the surgeon removes only the tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue, preserving as much healthy breast tissue as possible. Lumpectomy is typically followed by radiation therapy.

You'll be advised to choose a mastectomy if:

  • You have several tumors in different parts of your breast
  • Your tumor is large
  • You're not a good candidate for radiation therapy