As its name implies, radical mastectomy is not a solution or an easy decision. It is a procedure in which the breast tissue is removed. With breast tissue, the lymph nodes are also removed, and some muscles of the rib cage.
Radical mastectomy is one of the most complicated procedures and there are other simpler ones. For example, simple mastectomy, and even modified radical mastectomy, in which only the nodes are removed. Radical mastectomy is used only as a last option and in very special cases.
Why perform a radical mastectomy?
In general, mastectomy is performed in women with breast cancer who have some of these characteristics:
- Women who are not candidates for radiation therapy.
- In a more advanced type of cancer, where more extensive surgery is preferable.
- After radiation therapy and other unsuccessful attempts to control cancer.
- When there are two or more foci of cancer in the breast.
- In tumors that measure more than 5 cm or that occupy a lot of size in relation to the rest of the breast.
- Women with a high probability of recurrence, as in some genetic mutations.
- Women who are very sensitive to radiation therapy because of lupus, scleroderma, or other diseases.
However, most women would benefit from more conservative surgeries. Instead, the traditional radical mastectomy removes even the pectoral muscle. Therefore, it is only recommended in cases of highly invasive cancer.
On the other hand, there is also a type of modified radical mastectomy. In this, the lymph nodes in the armpit are also removed, but the pectoral muscle is kept. It is recommended when the spread of cancer to the lymph nodes in the armpit has been shown or is highly suspected.
What happens next?
Sometimes you might feel numbness in your breasts, but this feeling usually goes away over time. For this, you will receive support and go through a process of recovery and post-operative care.
After a radical mastectomy, the most common is to have breast reconstruction. This is especially requested in the case of young women, and can often be done at the same time as the mastectomy.
After the radical mastectomy, the studies will resume and you may receive other treatments, depending on the case. Also after a mastectomy of any kind, emotional support is important. But after a support and guidance program, little by little you will regain normalcy and your quality of life. For everything to go well, be sure to consult the best breast cancer and radical mastectomy specialists such as a gynecologist.