About the Surgery

Breast-Conserving Surgeries Remove the Cancer But Not the Breast Itself

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  • Lumpectomy: Operation to remove a tumour and a small amount of normal tissue around it.
  • Partial mastectomy: Operation to remove the part of the breast that has cancer and some normal tissue around it. This procedure is also called a segmental mastectomy. Patients who are treated with a breast-conserving operation may also have some of the lymph nodes under the arm removed for biopsy – called lymph node dissection. It may be done at the same time as the breast-conserving operation or afterwards, and always through a separate incision.

Other Common Surgeries That Do Not Conserve the Breast


  • Total mastectomy: Operation to remove the whole breast that has cancer – also called a simple mastectomy. Some of the lymph nodes under the arm may be removed for biopsy at the same time as the breast operation or afterwards through a separate incision.
  • Modified radical mastectomy: Operation to remove the whole breast that has cancer, many of the lymph nodes under the arm, the lining over the chest muscles, and sometimes, part of the chest wall muscles.
  • Radical mastectomy: Operation to remove the breast that has cancer, chest wall muscles under the breast and all of the lymph nodes under the arm. This procedure is sometimes called a Halsted radical mastectomy.
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