If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, odds are your doctor will recommend removing the cancerous area with surgery. Surgery can be performed before or after other treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation, and the type of surgery typically depends on the type and extent of your breast cancer. Here are the main types of breast cancer surgery options your doctor may recommend.


A lumpectomy is surgery to remove the cancerous tumor and a small margin of the surrounding healthy tissue. A lumpectomy conserves as much healthy breast tissue as possible while eliminating the cancerous cells. This type of surgery is usually performed when breast cancer is in its earliest stages and the tumor is small and well-defined.


A mastectomy is a surgical procedure that removes all of the breast tissue to get rid of cancerous cells and tumors. There are different types of mastectomies your doctor may recommend to you based on your cancer diagnosis.

  • Total Mastectomy: A full mastectomy to remove the entire breast as well as the nipple and areola.
  • Modified Radical Mastectomy: A modified radical mastectomy removes the entire breast, nipple, areola, and some of the lymph nodes under the arm.
  • Radical Mastectomy: A radical mastectomy is not performed as often as the other two surgical options, but if needed, this procedure removes the breast, chest muscles, and all the lymph nodes under the arms.

Additional surgeries

In addition to a lumpectomy or mastectomy, your doctor may recommend another surgery to fully remove the cancer, test the surrounding cells, or reconstruct your breasts.

1. Sentinel Node Biopsy

A sentinel node biopsy can be performed in both a lumpectomy or mastectomy. In this procedure, your surgeon will remove some healthy-looking lymph nodes near your cancerous tumor to assess whether the cancer has spread. This is often done to determine the extent of your cancer and to help your doctors decide what treatment options will work best to get rid of the tumor.

2. Axillary Lymph Node Dissection

An axillary lymph node dissection is used to help stage your cancer and determine the treatments needed to treat it. This is done when the sentinel lymph node biopsy shows more extensive disease, and your surgeon will remove more lymph nodes under your arm.

3. Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstructive breast surgery is performed by a plastic surgeon to restore the appearance of your breasts after a mastectomy. Reconstruction may be done immediately following your mastectomy or performed in stages. Reconstruction can be done using breast implants or, in some cases, your existing tissue in a procedure called a flap reconstruction.

What Breast Cancer Surgery Option Is Right for You?

A breast cancer diagnosis can be scary and overwhelming, but your team of doctors will help guide you through the entire process. Every breast cancer case is carefully reviewed by a team of doctors that includes surgeons, oncologists, and plastic surgeons.

Breast cancer surgery is highly individualized, and the type of surgery you may need depends on the type and stage of your cancer, your personal preferences, and your overall health.

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have questions regarding what breast cancer surgery and reconstruction option will be right for you, schedule a consultation appointment today!