A mastectomy is surgery to remove the breast. Every woman's treatment plan and breast surgery are different. Your doctor will tell you about your surgery and whether any lymph nodes will be removed.
When you find out that you have cancer, you may feel many emotions and may need some help coping. Seek out family, friends, and counsellors for support. You also can do things at home to make yourself feel better while you go through treatment. Call the Canadian Cancer Society (1-888-939-3333) or visit its website at www.cancer.ca for more information.
The type of surgery you have depends on:
You and your doctor can decide which surgery is right for you.
Breast cancer surgery helps many women go on to lead normal lives. Your outcome depends on many things, especially the stage of the cancer.
You will probably be able to go back to work or your normal routine in 3 to 6 weeks. This depends on the type of work you do and any further treatment. Talk with your doctor about other treatment you may need.
Your personal preferences and considerations are important when choosing a treatment that is right for you.
If you had an axillary lymph node dissection at the time of your surgery, many lymph nodes were removed from your armpit area. Without these lymph nodes, your arm may swell. This is called lymphedema. You will have to take good care of your affected arm. Do not carry heavy things with that arm. Wear loose sleeves and bracelets. Your doctor or physiotherapist can teach you arm exercises that will let you move your arm as you always have.
Before you get blood pressure tests, blood draws, or shots in that arm, tell your doctor that you had lymph nodes removed.
You will have a scar, but it will fade in time.
You have some choices in how you look. Talk to your doctor about breast forms. Ask about reconstructive surgery. This can sometimes be done at the same time as the mastectomy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: March 28, 2018
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Laura S. Dominici, MD - Surgery, General Surgery, Oncology
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