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What Is a Mastectomy and When Is It Necessary?

What Is a Mastectomy and When Is It Necessary?

Over 100,000 American women undergo mastectomy every year. A mastectomy is surgery to remove one or both breasts, and it’s one of the most common ways to treat breast cancer. 

Although mastectomy can be an effective breast cancer treatment for many women, it’s major surgery. So it’s normal to have questions about what it is and whether it’s really right for you. 

Elvira Klause, MD, FACS, can help. She’s a surgical oncologist specializing in breast surgery, and she works with women to understand their risks and find the best breast cancer treatment for their needs.

Understanding the types of mastectomy

A mastectomy removes your breast tissue, but there are a few different ways to perform the procedure. The best method for you depends on the type of cancer you have and its stage, as well as your personal preferences.

Simple mastectomies are most common. In this procedure, Dr. Klause removes your entire breast. In a modified radical mastectomy, she removes the entire breast along with your underarm lymph nodes to help prevent cancer cells from spreading elsewhere in your body.

Sometimes, skin- or nipple-sparing mastectomies are possible. In these procedures, Dr. Klause removes breast tissue but saves your breast skin and/or nipple. You may choose to have breast reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy or at a later date.

When to consider mastectomy

There are two main reasons why women get mastectomies:

To treat breast cancer

Mastectomy isn’t the only breast cancer treatment available, but it is the best option for some women. Dr. Klause may recommend mastectomy if:

Surgically removing one or both breasts is one of the most effective ways to treat cancer. Along with surgery, you may need chemotherapy or radiation to ensure all cancer cells are eliminated.

To help prevent breast cancer

Some women are at greater risk of breast cancer than others, and they may choose preventive mastectomy in an effort to lower their risk. Prophylactic mastectomy is surgery to remove one or both breasts before you ever receive a breast cancer diagnosis.

Your risk of breast cancer may be higher if you:

Every woman’s risk of breast cancer is different, so it’s important to discuss your medical history and your overall health with your doctor before making your decision.

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer or you recently found out you’re high-risk, it’s normal to have questions. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Klause and our team to learn more about mastectomy and find a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Call our San Clemente, California, office at 949-245-6910 or request an appointment online to get started.

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