Types of surgery
If you have been diagnosed with early breast cancer, you may have to decide between having a:
- lumpectomy (sometimes called breast conserving surgery or a wide local excision) where part of the breast is removed, or
- mastectomy, where the whole breast is removed.
The type of breast surgery recommended for you will depend on a number of factors including:
- the type of cancer
- the size of the tumour
- where the tumour is located in your breast
- how much surrounding tissue needs to be removed
- how large your breasts are.
You may have a choice about the type of surgery to have. In helping you make a decision, you can find it helpful to:
- talk through your options with your breast care nurse, GP or surgeon
- discuss how each option would affect you and impact on your personal life
- take the time to discuss your options with your partner, friends and family.
Talking to someone who’s been there can be a great source of information and support:
- Counterpart has trained peer support volunteers who have had personal experience of breast cancer.
- There are other resources in this Navigator topic that will guide you to organisations that also offer support.
See Decision making for more guidance. Whatever you decide, you don’t have to be rushed into treatment.
You may also need to make a decision about the lymph nodes in your arm pit. This is often the first place that breast cancer will spread outside the breast.
The resources in this Navigator topic will help you to understand the different surgical choices for dealing with lymph glands in your arm pit. The aim of surgery to lymph nodes is to:
- find out whether or not the cancer has spread, and
- plan further treatment.
The removal of lymph nodes can place you at increased risk of developing a condition called lymphoedema, which includes swelling in the breast and or arm. The Navigator topic on Lymphoedema will help you find more information about the condition.
The purpose of this Navigator is to guide you to information about surgical treatment options for early breast cancer. It does not constitute an endorsement of the information contained in the resources. This information is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather to provide a starting point to information seeking.