Mastectomy: everything you need to know

Mastectomy is a Surgery consisting in the total or partial removal of the mammary gland. It is mainly performed in patients with breast cancer. It is intended to preserve some of the breast tissue, although it is not possible in all cases.

Cases in which mastectomy is performed

This type of medical procedure is chosen in patients with breast cancer who:

  • They cannot receive radiation therapy. Some examples are pregnant patients with advanced disease, those patients who cannot tolerate the side effects of radiotherapy or those who, despite radiation, have not managed to improve their clinical situation.
  • They have a big tumor. This is typical of the more advanced stages of breast cancer, where the risk of metastasis is high and it is necessary to intervene as soon as possible.
  • They still have part of the tumor after surgery or have one or more genetic factors that increase the risk of developing cancer again in the future. In these cases, partial removal of the mammary gland poses a significant risk of malignancy.

types of mastectomy

Types of mastectomy.

We can distinguish different types of mastectomy depending on the characteristics of each intervention.

simple mastectomy

When we talk about mastectomy, we generally refer to this surgical technique. usually, Only the breast tissue is removed. However, in patients with displaced lymph nodes in the armpit due to tumor infiltration, they are also removed.

As a general rule, the muscles that are underneath this type of tissue are not affected. This type of operation is practiced if there is ductal carcinoma on site in a large area of ​​the mammary region.

radical mastectomy

In this case all breast tissue is removed (mammary gland, lymph nodes and tissues located below them). Today it is a very rare type of intervention because it is an aggressive and unsightly intervention.

For this reason, modified radical mastectomy is preferred. However, Years ago, this was the most commonly used type of surgery in most case reports of breast cancer patients.

modified radical mastectomy

In this intervention the entire breast and axillary lymph nodes are removed. The muscle tissue that is under the breast is not removed. This type of surgery is performed on patients diagnosed with invasive and widespread cancer.

The removed nodes are scanned to find out if the patient has the sentinel node affected or not. In case it is affected, tests are done to rule out metastasis.

Double or bilateral mastectomy

Both breasts are operated on and the medical team will decide which type of mastectomy is most convenient in each case.

Side effects of mastectomy

Side effects of mastectomy.

This type of surgery can save the patient’s life. However, too It can produce a number of unwanted side effects that vary depending on the type of mastectomy performed. The most frequent side effects are as follows:

  • Changed sensitivity in area.
  • Swelling or inflammation.
  • feeling of numbness or heaviness in the chest.
  • Reduced ability to move the shoulder and even the arm whenever there is removal of nodes in the axillary lymphatic chain.
  • Presence of bruises. It is due to the accumulation of blood along the wound.
  • Appearance of seromas. Serous fluids build up (are clear or clear in color) in the area where the breast tissue was removed.
  • Burning and intense pain in the arms, armpit or chest wall. It is the most characteristic manifestation of postmastectomy pain syndrome. It usually appears in areas with excessive stimulation of nerve endings after surgical resection. Because of this, it usually doesn’t get better over time.

However, in some cases the breast can be reconstructed with excellent aesthetic results.

Breast reconstruction after mastectomy

Breast cancer support.

The aesthetic aspect is a key factor in this type of intervention. During the operation, breast reconstruction can be performed in the case of a lumpectomy. In the case of total mastectomy, patients choose to use breast implants. In this way it is possible to recover the aesthetic aspect without further surgical interventions.

complementary treatments

There are a number of techniques that can be used after this surgery. The most commonly used treatments are radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy according to the needs of each patient.

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