Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy, Skin-Sparing Mastectomy, Total Mastectomy, Prophylactic Mastectomy
Deciding to have a mastectomy is often a very personal choice; it is a choice you should make with the guidance and support of your breast cancer surgeon. That is why it is so important to choose a dedicated breast cancer surgeon who understands your concerns. Duke breast cancer surgeons in Durham, Raleigh, and Cary have dedicated their careers to working closely with breast cancer and high-risk breast cancer patients. We know this is a difficult decision. We help you understand your diagnosis and the options available to you.
Is Mastectomy the Best Option for You?
Mastectomy may be recommended if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or are at a high risk for developing it. Many factors will help you and your breast surgeon determine whether a mastectomy is your best option. Much depends on the type, location and stage of breast cancer you have. There are different types of mastectomy and several new advances.
For example, your breast cancer surgeon may talk to you about a skin-sparing mastectomy or a nipple-sparing mastectomy. In addition to improving the cosmetic appearance of the breast, research indicates many women who undergo nipple-sparing mastectomies and skin-sparing mastectomies have higher self-esteem and better body image when compared to a total mastectomy.
If you are at a high risk for breast cancer, you may be considering a prophylactic mastectomy also known as (preventative mastectomy or risk-reducing mastectomy) to reduce your risk. Your breast cancer surgeon may also discuss this option with you if genetic testing has confirmed the presence of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation, as these are the most common causes of hereditary breast cancer.
Your breast cancer surgeon will carefully review these and other options with you. We help you weigh the pros and cons and choose the type of mastectomy you are most comfortable with.
Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy
Although many women choose not to have breast reconstruction, others are interested in learning more about breast reconstruction after mastectomy. Your breast cancer surgeon will talk to you about whether you prefer to go flat, and whether breast reconstruction should take place at the same time as your mastectomy or be delayed. Our plastic surgeons offer the latest breast reconstruction techniques and will meet with you as you are making decisions to help you understand your breast reconstruction options.
Choosing a Breast Cancer Surgeon
When deciding who should perform your mastectomy, it’s important to consider your surgeon’s experience.
- At Duke, our dedicated breast surgeons only see breast patients. Many have undergone advanced fellowship training to treat diseases of the breast, including breast cancer. Breast surgical oncologists who only see people with breast cancer often have the most experience treating your breast cancer.
- In addition to years of experience, many of our breast surgeons are nationally recognized for their innovative approaches to breast cancer surgery and treatment. They draw upon the latest research findings and employ the latest surgical techniques to ensure you receive the best treatments available.
- During your breast cancer surgery, your breast surgeon also may remove lymph nodes under your arm to determine if your breast cancer has spread. This can guide final treatment decisions such as chemotherapy, radiation, or endocrine therapy, which prevent breast cancer from recurring.
- Having a cancer center near your work or home will minimize the impact your breast cancer treatment has on your daily life. Our breast cancer centers are located in Durham, Raleigh, and Cary, close to your home and work. We do everything we can to schedule breast imaging appointments, and visits with your breast surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist on the same day.
Your breast cancer care is our top priority. Our doctors work as a team, which means you will see many members of your breast cancer team during your appointment. That goes a long way toward reducing unnecessary stress and anxiety. It also ensures you have all the information you need to make decisions about your care. In addition, if you seek care at Duke and continue your radiation or chemotherapy closer to home, our doctors will coordinate your treatment plan with your doctors. We also provide second opinions and share information with doctors near you.
A unilateral mastectomy, or single mastectomy, refers to the removal of one breast. A bilateral mastectomy, or double mastectomy, refers to the removal of both breasts.
Removal of all breast tissue, plus the overlying skin, nipple and areola.
Removes the breast tissue and nipple but preserves the outer layer of skin.
Removes the breast tissue, but saves the outer layer of skin and the nipple.
Combines a total mastectomy and an axillary lymph node dissection (removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit area).
Prophylactic mastectomy removes one or both breasts to reduce the risk of breast cancer. May be done as a total, skin-sparing or nipple-sparing mastectomy.