Mastectomy is a surgery to remove breast. The purpose of removing the breast is for prevention of recurring breast cancer. It is also used to treat Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), locally advanced breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, paget disease of the breast and early breast cancer.

There are five different types of mastectomy, namely, simple or total mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, radical mastectomy, partial mastectomy and subcutaneous (nipple-sparing) mastectomy.

About the procedure

Five types of mastectomy

1) Simple or Total Mastectomy
This procedure, removes the entire breast. Removal of lymph nodes in the underarm area is not done here, but if the lymph nodes happen to be located within the breast tissue, it is removed during surgery. Muscles are also not removed from beneath the breast.

This procedure is for women with multiple or large areas if DCIS and for women seeking to remove breast in prevention of breast cancer occurrence.

2) Modified Radical Mastectomy
This procedure involves removing of the entire breast. Axillary lymph node dissection is performed, during which, level I and II of underarm lymph nodes are removed. Muscles from beneath the breast are not removed.

Since this procedure involves examining the lymph nodes, it helps to identify whether cancer cells may have spread beyond the breast. Hence, the modified radical mastectomy may be done on patients with invasive breast cancer.

3) Radical Mastectomy
This is the most extensive mastectomy procedure where the entire breast is removed, level I, II and III of the lymph nodes are removed and the chest walls muscles from under the breast are also removed.

This procedure is only for when the breast cancer has spread to the chest muscles under the breast. It is currently rarely performed as the modified radical mastectomy has proven to be just as effective and less disfiguring.

4) Partial Mastectomy
This procedure only removed the cancerous part of the breast tissue and some normal tissue around it. Unlike lumpectomy, which is technically a form of partial mastectomy, more tissue is removed.

5) Subcutaneous Mastectomy (nipple-sparing)
This procedure involves removing of all the breast tissue but the nipple is left untouched. This procedure is performed less often than simple or total mastectomy because more breast tissue is left behind after the procedure that may have the possibility to develop cancer.

What to expect of the procedure?
The different mastectomy procedure is done depending on the result of the consultation by the plastic surgeon. The type of the procedure is depending on the stage of cancer, size of the tumour, size of the breast and whether or not the lymph nodes are involved. Sometimes, mastectomy is done in prevention of breast cancer.

After the mastectomy is carried out, some patients opt to go through breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction may involve breast implants. In Shens Clinic, the tear drop breast implants are used.

Click here to find out more about breast implants