Breast Cancer Treatment usually involves multiple steps. These steps may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and anti-hormone treatment. On this page, we uncover the surgical component of treatment.
For an overview of the entire treatment process, as well as to understand cancer better, we recommend resources provided by Cancer Council Australia and Breast Cancer Network Australia.
Surgical treatment of breast cancer usually involves two steps:
1. Cancer removal
2. Breast reconstruction
Where surgery is performed for breast cancer, cancer removal is always performed. Breast reconstruction is performed when it is appropriate for the patient and the patient chooses to have it done.
Cancer Removal
There are two surgical procedures that can be used to remove breast cancers.
Breast conserving surgery (also known as lumpectomy, wide local excision, partial mastectomy) is the process of cutting out just the cancer with a margin of breast tissue around the cancer. The remaining tissue in the breast is not removed. (Click here to learn more about breast conserving surgery)
A mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast. It may involve the removal of the skin over the breast, the nipple and even the pectoral muscle under the breast. (Click here to learn more about mastectomies)
Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction techniques used after breast conserving surgery aim to restore and normalise the appearance of the breast after the cancer (and margin) have been cut out. The internal flap, mammoplasty, and chest wall perforator flap are the techniques used today for post-lumpectomy reconstruction.
Breast reconstruction techniques used after a mastectomy aim to recreate the form of a breast in place of the breast that is removed. When circumstances permit, the nipple or skin around the breast may be spared from being removed. This may facilitate reconstruction. Implant-based reconstruction, the latissimus dorsi flap, and the DIEP flap are techniques commonly used for post-mastectomy reconstruction.
Sometimes, initial reconstruction surgery for breast cancer does not achieve the desired results. Corrective surgery, employing advanced techniques, may be required to improve the appearance of the breasts.
Finally, although uncommon, some women with breast implants may encounter problems with their implants. These problems may include pain or reduced arm mobility. In such cases, the surgical removal of the implants may be appropriate.
You are encouraged to discuss all appropriate options with the surgeon to understand their benefits and risks.
All information on this page is provided only as a reference, and does not constitute medical advice. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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