Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy, Skin-Sparing Mastectomy, Total Mastectomy, Prophylactic Mastectomy

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Deciding to have a mastectomy is often a very personal choice, and one you should make with the guidance and support of your breast cancer surgeon. That's why it's so important to choose a dedicated breast cancer surgeon who understands your concerns. Duke breast cancer surgeons in Durham, Raleigh, and Cary have devoted 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.

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Mastectomy Types

Mastectomy may be recommended if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or are at a high risk of 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. 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 with which you are most comfortable.

Single, Double Mastectomy

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. 

Total Mastectomy

Removal of all breast tissue plus the overlying skin, nipple, and areola.

Skin-Sparing Mastectomy

Removes the breast tissue and nipple but preserves the outer layer of skin.

Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy

Removes the breast tissue but saves the outer layer of skin and the nipple, 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 those who have total mastectomies.

Modified Radical Mastectomy

Combines a total mastectomy and an axillary lymph node dissection (removal of the lymph nodes in the armpit area).

Prophylactic Mastectomy (Preventative 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. It's the removal of one or both breasts to reduce the risk of breast cancer. It may be done as a total, skin-sparing, or nipple-sparing mastectomy.  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 Care Is Our Top Priority

Your Breast Cancer Team
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.

Dedicated Breast Surgeons
Breast surgical oncologists who only see people with breast cancer may have the most experience treating your type of breast cancer. Many of our breast surgeons have undergone advanced fellowship training to treat diseases of the breast, including breast cancer. In addition to having 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 use the latest surgical techniques to ensure you receive the best treatments available.

Cancer Center Close to Home and Work
Having a cancer center near your work or home will minimize the impact your breast cancer treatment has on your daily life. 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.  

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Duke Health offers cancer centers throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Best Cancer Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.