Mastectomy: aka Partial Lumpectomy Costs, Radical Mastectomy, Partial Mastectomy, Breast Removal Surgery, Total Mastectomy, Ductal Cancer Surgery
What is it?
A mastectomy or radical mastectomy surgery is surgery to remove a breast or both breast, and is usually performed to treat or prevent breast cancer. Typically only patients that are at high-risk for breast cancer or the spread of breast cancer receive a mastectomy.
There are actually four different types of mastectomy or breast cancer surgery:
- Total or radical mastectomy - this is a complete removal of the breast including removal of the breast tissue and the nipple
- Partial or modified mastectomy - this is a removal of the breast including some or most of the lymph nodes that are under the arm and those that exist in the lining over the chest muscles because these can become infected with cancer
- Lumpectomy or partial lumpectomy - this is a surgery to remove a breast tumor and a small amount of the breast tissue that surrounds the tumor in the hope the cancer will not spread. This is usually performed when the cancer is caught early.
- Radical mastectomy - this is an uncommon surgery where the entire breast including the lymph nodes and the chest muscles are removed. This is not a common procedure.
The type of cancer someone has and their health history typically determines the type of procedure they select including whether they opt to have the lymph nodes removed or not. Often women elect to have breast reconstruction surgery following mastectomy so they can restore a natural-looking appearance to their chest.
A mastectomy surgery usually takes up to two hours. Generally breast tissue is first separated from the skin overlying the chest wall muscle. The breast tissue is then removed including all of the breast tissue located from the side of the body to the breast bone. Many women have some of their chest muscle taken out too.
The surgeon will insert drains into the chest to help remove fluids that will collect there for the first week or so and will stitch the wound up so it can heal. The wound is then also dressed and wrapped snuggly to help minimize bruising and swelling.
Alternatives to Surgery
Many women will receive radiation or chemotherapy. If a tumor is found a woman can have a lumpectomy where a breast lump and part of the breast tissue may be removed along with radiation therapy and chemotherapy, however if breast cancer is found there are not a lot of options other than some type of surgery to remove the cancer. If a woman does not address the breast cancer it could metastasize and spread into other areas of the body causing death.
The earlier breast cancer is detected and treated the more likely a woman is to cure the disease and go on to lead a high quality of life and enjoy a healthy prognosis.
Before the Operation
Before the operation a woman will discuss her options for surgery with her doctor. These include having a mastectomy, a radical mastectomy and a lumpectomy. The doctor will review her medical history, talk about breast reconstruction, which a woman can elect to have at the same time she has the mastectomy, and discuss how important it is to avoid medications including NSAID which may increase the risk of bleeding or bruising.
After the Operation- At Home
After the operation most women will stay in the hospital for less then 3 days as they recover. The sooner a woman gets back on her feet the better. Getting up and moving will keep the circulation going which will reduce the likelihood of blood clots.
Risks associated with surgery may include:
- Risks associated with tingling and numbness especially around the incision site where nerves may be severed following surgery. This may go away with healing and time.
- Sensitivity especially around the incision area and the area of surgery, also resulting from severed nerve endings or nerve endings that are irritated. This sensitivity will fade as nerve endings grow back and repair themselves.
- Excess edema or fluid collecting in and around the scar. Some women may develop what is known as a hematoma, which is a collection of blood in the wound or scar. This often requires treatment. The surgeon may need to remove excess fluid by inserting a needle into the wound and draining the fluid.
- Slow wound healing, which may be because blood vessels supplying the breast tissue with oxygen no longer exist, so the incision site may not heal as fast as one would expect it to.
- Increased risk for infection, especially around the incision area. Fortunately with proper care this can be minimized or avoided completely.
A mastectomy can be a life-saving procedure for woman at risk for breast cancer or women with early stage breast cancer. Some women whose breast cancer is discovered later in their illness may also benefit from certain forms of mastectomy. Make sure you schedule an appointment to talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks associated with a partial, full or radical mastectomy if you have or are at risk for breast cancer.
Estimated Costs for Mastectomy
The costs associated with mastectomy surgery vary considerably depending on the patient’s age, gender, health status and whether they need both breasts removed and whether they need breast reconstruction (or want it). The prices below represent average costs and may not include all hospital stays, recovery times and breast reconstruction costs.
Keep in mind mastectomy may include complete removal of the breast and breast tissue, removal of the lymph and lymph tissue, removal of the breast without removing the nipple or areola and related procedures.