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Breast Cancer Surgery - Your Options and Decisions

Choose, Prepare, and Recover from Surgery

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Updated October 06, 2010

Once you have a diagnosis of breast cancer, you and your doctor will discuss your options for surgery. It can be a difficult decision, but asking good questions and knowing your options can help. Remember that surgery is often the first treatment you will use to attack breast cancer, so choose the most effective method for you.

Checking Your Lymph Nodes

You will need to know whether or not the cancer has traveled beyond your breast.  One way to test for this is to examine your lymph nodes. There are two surgeries that accomplish this, both of which share a potential side effect: 

Making Your Surgery Decisions

Once you have your comprehensive diagnosis, it's time to sort your options for surgery.  Ask your surgeon all the questions that are important to you, consider your priorities, and make your choice.

Therapeutic Breast Surgery

Breast cancer surgery is done to prevent cancer recurrence. The goal is to remove the tumor so that it won't reappear in your breast or spread to other parts of your body.  You may have several choices for breast surgery, depending on the size of the tumor, the type of cancer, and the size of your breast.

Navigating Breast Cancer Surgery and Recovery

Now that you've made your decision, schedule your surgery and then begin to prepare yourself.  Check with your insurance provider, pack your things, and collect all your comfy pillows.  Make sure you know the sick leave policies at your workplace, and talk with your supervisor.

Next Steps in Your Journey

After you recover from surgery, you may need additional treatments to lower your risk of recurrence.  Be sure to take a break between surgery and radiation or chemotherapy.  Use the time to learn more about what to expect during your treatments.  Gather supportive people around you, and spend time with those you love.  Most of all, take it easy as you recover from surgery.

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