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For adult women, breast cancer can be a big health concern. It affects millions of women around the globe every year, often in life-threatening ways. One of the absolute musts in preventive health care for women involves regular breast exams, both from a doctor and done regularly at home.
For women who do develop breast cancer, one of the most common treatments they receive is called a mastectomy. A mastectomy is a surgical procedure to remove one or both breasts – including all the breast tissue and sometimes even tissue from other parts of the body next to the breasts.
Mastectomies are invasive, but unlike some other conditions where surgery is the last resort, breast cancer has few other less invasive treatments. Many people actually find a mastectomy to be far less invasive than chemotherapy and radiation treatment, though both are often used in many cases. Here are some of the basics of mastectomy.
There are a few different types of mastectomy:
Mastectomy is done almost exclusively as a cancer treatment – either to remove cancer already present or to help prevent future cancer in the breasts. There are many types of cancer that may be treated with a mastectomy:
There are also several situations where a mastectomy might be the best solution, and chemotherapy or radiation might not be applicable. In addition, preventive mastectomy is common – when a woman has cancer in one breast, but both breasts are removed in a double mastectomy to prevent what’s often a high risk of spreading to the other breast.
There are a few risks or complications associated with mastectomy:
For some people, an alternative treatment called lumpectomy is preferable to mastectomy. Lumpectomy is defined as “breast-conserving surgery,” and only the cancerous tumor is removed during this surgery rather than the entire breast. Lumpectomy can’t be used in every case, but many women prefer it when applicable because it’s less invasive and allows them to keep their natural breasts.
If you’re have a family history of breast cancer or experience any issues related to the breasts, contact your doctor or healthcare provider right away.
“Mastectomy.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/mastectomy/basics/definition/prc-20012749
“Mastectomy.” American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-treating-mastectomy
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.