Why is Mastectomy Required as a Part of Breast Cancer Treatment & Is Chemotherapy Necessary After A Mastectomy?

Why is Mastectomy Required as a Part of Breast Cancer Treatment?

Mastectomy is a surgical procedure required to treat patients with breast cancer. This involves removal of the entire breast affected by cancer. This is essentially done when a patient cannot be treated with lumpectomy surgery, which spares most of the breast. Sometimes, women having a high risk of getting a second cancer have to go for double mastectomy which involves removal of both the breasts.

Why is Mastectomy Required as a Part of Breast Cancer Treatment?

What are The Types of Mastectomy Available in the Medical Field?

Simple Mastectomy: If a small cancerous tumor is present has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes, a simple mastectomy may be done. The patient will be placed under general anesthesia while the surgeon will remove the entire breast along with the nipple and areola. The patient might have to stay overnight for observation.

Modified Radical Mastectomy: Modified radical mastectomy is required when the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes near the breast. In this case, the patient’s breast, nipple, areola along with the lymph nodes will be removed under general anesthesia. The patient has to stay in the hospital for at least a night.

Skin-Sparing Mastectomy: The next type is the skin-sparing mastectomy. In this, the surgeon removes the breast, nipple and areola, but leaves the skin in place. This is typically done when mastectomy is immediately followed by reconstruction surgery. In such case, the patient has to stay for five nights or longer in the hospital. The cost of breast reconstruction surgery should be additionally covered.

Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy: Nipple-sparing mastectomy is a type of variation of the skin-sparing one. The breast tissue is removed in this procedure, but the breast skin along with the nipple is left intact. This procedure is generally followed by breast reconstruction surgery. It must be remembered that, the surgeon at the time of the surgery will remove the breast tissue first beneath the nipple and areola and check for the presence of cancer cells. In case cancer is found in this tissue, the nipple has to be removed to prevent the spread of cancer. Some surgeons give a dose of radiation in the nipple tissue during the surgery even if cancer is not found. This is done to reduce the risk of cancer from coming back.

Is Chemotherapy Necessary After A Mastectomy?

The decision of chemotherapy to be given after a mastectomy depends on the type of cancer a patient suffers from and also its duration. The doctor may decide to provide chemotherapy after mastectomy for patients with early breast cancer. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy, which lowers the risk of the breast cancer to relapse by getting rid of cancer cells that might be still present in the body after mastectomy.

When is Adjuvant Chemotherapy Used?

Adjuvant treatment of chemotherapy is used in early stages of breast cancer. They are designed to kill the cancer cells that have escaped the breast and regional lymph nodes even after mastectomy. If such cells are allowed to grow, the possibility and risk of the growth of new tumors in other places of the body increases. Thus, adjuvant chemo helps in lowering the risk of breast cancer from coming back. Adjuvant chemotherapy is given just after the mastectomy and before the radiation therapy.

How Important Is Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy?

While most women may find it important to go for breast reconstruction after one of their breast is removed, it is up to the patient as to what she may want to do. Sometimes, when the patient has to go for double mastectomy, they may choose not to go for the reconstruction surgery. Some women may choose to wear breast forms to have the contour of breast under their clothes without surgery.

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