Lumpectomy VS Mastectomy

The two primary surgery options for treating breast cancer are mastectomy, which removes the entire breast, and lumpectomy, a breast-conserving surgery also known as partial mastectomy. Women with early-stage cancers able to choose between these options could consider the risks and benefits of lumpectomy vs mastectomy.

The goal of lumpectomy is to remove the cancer along with surrounding normal tissue, depending on the size and location of the tumor, among other factors. Through mastectomy, the whole breast is removed, which may also include nearby tissue.

Doctors usually recommend a lumpectomy vs mastectomy for women who have a single, small tumor and can tolerate follow-up radiation treatment, according to the American Cancer Society. Women who have large or multiple tumors that have spread to the surrounding area are better candidates for mastectomy, the ACS says.

The main benefit of a lumpectomy vs mastectomy is the preservation of the breast. Using local anesthesia, the patient can often go home the same day as the surgery instead of having to stay overnight as required with a mastectomy using general anesthesia.

In most cases, though, a lumpectomy patient may also need radiation, which isn’t as likely after a mastectomy. Radiation has its side effects and requires daily trips to a treatment center. Radiation therapy can last 5 to 7 weeks, 5 days a week, reports There also is a slightly higher risk of recurrence with a lumpectomy, according to Susan G. Komen. Recurrence requires further treatment and possibly even mastectomy.

A mastectomy is a more extensive, time-consuming surgery resulting in a longer recovery time and potential side effects. Most women also opt to have additional surgery to reconstruct the breast after a mastectomy. Lumpectomies don’t usually require reconstructive surgery, except in rare cases when a larger amount of tissue is removed, causing the breast to look smaller or distorted.

Survival rates are about the same for either type of surgery as is the risk of the cancer spreading to other organs, Susan G. Komen reports.

Sources: American Cancer Society,, Susan G. Komen

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