Breast Cancer Surgery: When Mastectomy Is Best

By , Caring.com senior editor
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Surgery is the treatment of choice for virtually all women with breast cancer. One of the first choices anyone diagnosed with breast cancer will need to make is whether to have a lumpectomy and radiation or a mastectomy.

Whether to have a mastectomy

The choice is often an either-or, with similar risk factors and cure rates. But a mastectomy is the only option if the person you're caring for:

  • Has a tumor bigger than 5 centimeters.
  • Has tumors in more than one quarter of the breast.

Mastectomy is also preferable for women who don't want to have radiation because:

  • They're pregnant.
  • They're concerned about side effects.

They don't have time for the multiple treatments. In addition, some doctors and patients select mastectomy simply to make sure all cancerous and potentially cancerous tissue is removed, even if tests indicate a lumpectomy would be fine.