Surgery for breast cancer
For most people, treatment for early or locally advanced breast cancer will include surgery. The type of surgery recommended for you will depend on the type and stage of the cancer, where it is in the breast, and the size of your breast as well as your personal preferences.
In most cases, you may have one or more lymph nodes removed from the armpit, known as axillary surgery. Some people also have surgery to make a new breast shape (breast reconstruction) during the operation.
Sometimes chemotherapy is given before surgery to shrink the tumour. This is known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy. It may be recommended for HER2 positive, triple negative or locally advanced breast cancer. Often surgery is followed by other treatments.
Learn more about:
- Which surgery should I have?
- Breast-conserving surgery
- Breast reconstruction
- Removing lymph nodes
- What to expect after breast surgery
- What your breast looks like after surgery
- Side effects of surgery
The two types of surgery are breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy. Depending on your situation, you may be offered a choice between the two. Breast-conserving surgery is not usually suitable for males.
Research has shown that for early breast cancer having breast-conserving surgery followed by radiation therapy is as effective as a mastectomy. The chance of the cancer coming back in another part of the body is the same for both types of surgery.
The operations have different benefits, risks and side effects. Talk to your doctor about the best option for you.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Prof Bruce Mann, Professor of Surgery, The University of Melbourne, and Director, Breast Tumour Stream, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Marie Burke, Radiation Oncologist, and Medical Director GenesisCare Oncology, QLD; Dr Susan Fraser, Breast Physician, Cairns Hospital and Marlin Coast Surgery Cairns, QLD; Ruth Groom, Consumer; Julie McGirr, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; A/Prof Catriona McNeil, Medical Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Dr Roya Merie, Staff Specialist, Radiation Oncology, Liverpool Cancer Therapy Centre, Liverpool Hospital, NSW; Dr Eva Nagy, Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, Sydney Oncoplastic Surgery, NSW; Gay Refeld, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Breast Care, St John of God Subiaco Hospital, WA; Genny Springham, Consumer.
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