Understanding Your Surgical Options for Breast Cancer

Advances in medical understanding and technology continue to expand your options for successful breast cancer treatment.

Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, your care team may recommend drugs or treatments that target and destroy malignant tissue, hormonal therapy that’s designed to starve tumors, and/or biologics that enhance your immune system’s ability to fight cancer at the cellular level. Even these days, however, surgery remains the mainstay of treatment for nonmetastatic breast cancer.  

At Candela and Schreier Medical Corporation, serving residents of the San Fernando Valley region of California, board-certified surgeons, Dr. Frank Candela and Dr. David Schreier, are well-known for their expertise in numerous types of surgery, including highly advanced robotic surgery.

These experts offer valuable insight regarding the surgical options available for breast cancer treatment.

What types of surgery are available for breast cancer?

The procedures available for breast cancer surgery include:

  • Mastectomy to remove the entire breast
  • Lumpectomy to remove the tumor and associated tissue margins
  • Resection (removal) of nearby lymph nodes
  • Breast reconstruction surgery

The size, nature, and your personal preferences are carefully considered before your surgeon recommends a specific procedure.

Other treatments, which may include chemotherapy, radiation, etc. are often used following surgery to help eliminate any surviving cancer cells but may be required before the operation to help shrink tumor size and enhance the effectiveness of surgery.

Lumpectomy versus mastectomy

A lumpectomy is often described as breast-conserving surgery because only the tumor and a small amount of tissue around the cancer is removed. Early-stage, or noninvasive breast cancers are often effectively treated with lumpectomy.  A lumpectomy with radiation has the same oncologic benefit as a mastectomy. It is incorrectly assumed that a mastectomy is a better operation for cure. The issue is, that not all the breast is removed in mastectomy, and tumors can recur on the muscle or in the skin.

Mastectomy is typically recommended for large tumors and generally describes removal of one or both breasts. You may also have the option of undergoing a skin-sparing or nipple sparing mastectomy that, along with reconstruction, yield a more natural appearance.  However, women opting for this will have no sensation in the skin of the breast. 

Some women might also choose to have a mastectomy due to a significant family history of breast cancer or known gene mutation.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy will allow for removal of one or two nodes that drain the area of the breast that is involved.

Dr. Candela and Dr. Schreier also specialize in oncoplastic surgery, which combines breast cancer surgery with expert and cosmetically appealing breast reconstruction during the same operation.

At Candela and Schreier, our team takes time to carefully discuss all your options before scheduling your surgery.

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