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Breast Cancer Surgery Options

Therapeutic Breast Cancer Surgery Overview

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Updated September 12, 2011

Lumpectomy

Lumpectomy

Photo @ A.D.A.M.
Prevention of cancer recurrence is the top priority when it comes to breast cancer surgery. The goal is to remove the tumor so that it won't reappear in your breast, or spread to other parts of the body.

If you need breast cancer surgery, you have some choices in procedure depending on the tumor location, size, grade, and node status. The surgical procedures can be done by a general surgeon or one who specializes in breast surgery.

Breast Cancer Surgeries

The three surgical procedures used for breast cancer are:
  • Lumpectomy: removal of the cancerous lump along with a margin of surrounding tissue

  • Quadrantectomy: removal of the cancer and nearby tissue

  • Mastectomy: removal of all of the breast tissue and sometimes part of the chest wall muscle
Reading up on each can help you understand the benefits and risks, and help you discuss the options with your surgeon so you can make a more informed choice.

Other Procedures

Breast cancer surgery may also include other diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, as well as cosmetic techniques:

Finding a Good Surgeon

If you have never had surgery, or don’t know a surgeon to see about this, ask your family doctor or nurse practitioner to recommend a surgeon. If you have an oncologist, he or she should also be able to refer you to surgeons who have done these kinds of surgeries. Finding a surgeon with lots of experience in breast surgery and who has a good reputation is a great help. If they also have good listening skills and are able to answer your questions with clear language and plenty of patience, then you have found a gem.

Dealing with Health Insurance

Check with your health insurance company, if you have one, to make sure that the surgeon of your choice and the hospital or surgical center where he or she works is covered. Also, before you agree to any procedures, check with your surgeon’s staff to see if they can work with your health insurance company to get the best benefits for you.

While you’re checking on your insurance coverage, find out which anesthesia firms work with the hospital. Be sure those are covered by your health insurance. Your surgeon, the hospital, and the anesthesiologist will all bill you separately. Doing your homework first can help to prevent any financial surprises after your surgery.

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