Surgical Options for Breast Cancer Patients

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The most common surgery for breast cancer these days is a lumpectomy, which is considered breast-conserving therapy. If patients choose to undergo this surgery, it has to be combined with radiation therapy, which can be administered in the form of external radiation, where the whole breast is radiated, or partial breast radiation called brachytherapy.

Another option for surgically treating breast cancer is by mastectomy. Mastectomies remove all the breast tissue, but nowadays, most women are candidates for immediate breast reconstruction done during the same operation.

When reconstruction is used, women can have either a skin-sparing, areola-sparing, or nipple-sparing mastectomy. This is where the skin and/or the areola and nipple are preserved, which improves the cosmetic outcome dramatically. The type of breast cancer that a woman has will determine which of these procedures is appropriate.

Reconstruction can be performed by using implants or tissue transplanted from other areas of the body. Most commonly, abdominal fat is used, which results in a tummy tuck.

Some patients may need to have chemotherapy prior to surgery. Although this is not proven to improve the survival outcomes, it increases the surgical options and may potentially decrease the risk of local recurrence in the breast.

There are so many more options for women these days for surgically treating breast cancer, and they should be discussed with a breast surgeon.

Dr. Cynara Coomer is an assistant professor of surgery specializing in breast health and breast cancer surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She is a FOX News Health contributor providing medical expertise on a variety of topics in cancer research with a focus on women's health, breast diseases and tips for healthy breasts at any age.