Many breast cancer patients come across the decision of whether to have a lumpectomy or mastectomy. Before weighing the risks and benefits of this decision, it is important to know the general differences of each procedure.
A lumpectomy and mastectomy are both performed for the same purpose, which is to treat a breast tumor. A lumpectomy, however, only removes the tumor and leaves most of the surrounding tissue intact.
With a mastectomy, on the other hand, a surgeon removes the tumor along with the patient’s entire breast.
In many cases, lumpectomies are options for patients who are in the earlier stages of breast cancer, have non-cancerous tumors, or have less risk that the cancer will return. Mastectomies may be the option doctors recommend when a person is in a later stage of cancer, has a large cancerous tumor, or has cancer that is likely to return.
When comparing a lumpectomy and mastectomy, doctors often refer to lumpectomies as breast-preserving procedures. This is due to the fact that removing just the lump and as little of the surrounding tissue as possible leaves the breast mostly intact.