Choosing Lumpectomy vs. Mastectomy

Deciding whether breast-conserving surgery or total breast removal is right for you isn’t as simple as it seems. While you and your doctor want the best results using the least-invasive treatments, your personal preferences and feelings also play a role in this important choice.

Mastectomy or Lumpectomy: How to Choose?

Lumpectomy offers the advantage of better preserving the appearance of the breast. But it also requires several weeks of radiation therapy after surgery. However, some women who have a mastectomy also need to receive radiation therapy. And women who choose lumpectomy with radiation have the same survival rate as those who choose mastectomy.

Beyond the advantages and limitations of each surgery, consider your feelings about the following:

  • If keeping your breast is an option, is it important to you?
  • Can you devote additional time and travel to radiation therapy?
  • Are you willing to undergo additional surgery after your initial procedure?
  • Does removing the entire breast give you more peace of mind?

Consider the facts carefully before making any decisions about the type of breast cancer surgery you have. Though you may have an initial preference for mastectomy, keep in mind it doesn’t guarantee better long-term control of your cancer or a better outcome. Large studies with thousands of women and more than 20 years of data show mastectomy doesn’t result in better breast cancer survival rates than lumpectomy with radiation. For these reasons, many women today choose not to have their breasts removed.

Lumpectomy vs. Mastectomy

Mercy Clinic breast surgeon Cara Hahs, MD, discusses advances in breast cancer surgery that give women more treatment options.