What is a mastectomy? A mastectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the breast, usually due to cancer, although sometimes as a means to prevent cancer.

Different types of mastectomies may be performed based on the location, size or behavior of a tumor or lump, if one is present.

What are the different types of mastectomy? The types are:

  • Radical (Halsted) – involves the removal of all breast tissue, lymph nodes and pectoral muscles behind the breasts – the oldest type, it is now used only in cases where the tumor has invaded the pectoral muscles or recurrent cancer has invaded the chest wall
  • Modified radical – breast tissues and lymph nodes are removed
  • Simple – all breast tissue and sometimes a single lymph node is removed
  • Skin-sparing – breast tissues and other affected components are removed through a smaller incision in order to simplify reconstructive surgery
  • Nipple-sparing (subcutaneous) – breast tissue only is removed leaving the nipple and areola
  • Double mastectomy – both breasts are removed – could be any of the other types such as a double modified radical mastectomy
  • Extended radical mastectomy – in addition to the radical mastectomy, the internal mammary lymph node is removed
  • Lumpectomy – when only the lump and tissues surrounding the lump are removed

What are breast conservation techniques? Many of the types listed above such as lumpectomy and skin-sparing are more conservative, in that less is removed during the surgery.

If you still have questions, you can get more information from your doctor, from the Canadian Cancer Society or from the Canadian Breast Cancer Network.