Breast Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions

28. What does a mastectomy involve?

Surgery to remove the entire breast and sometimes the surrounding tissue is called a mastectomy. There are three types:

  • A total or simple mastectomy is removal of the whole breast. Sometimes the surgeon takes out lymph nodes under the arm as well.
  • A modified radical mastectomy is removal of the breast, many of the lymph nodes under the arm, and the lining over the chest muscles. Sometimes, the surgeon removes part of the chest wall muscles, too.
  • A radical mastectomy, sometimes called the Halsted radical mastectomy, is removal of the breast, chest muscles, and all of the lymph nodes under the arm. This surgery is used only when the tumor has spread to the chest muscles.