Mastectomy vs. Lumpectomy

Total removal or partial removal of the breast

By Triston Brewer, Medical Research EditorLast modified: September 14, 2011

Mastectomy vs. Lumpectomy

Mastectomy v.s Lumpectomy 

Depending on the circumstances and when the breast cancer is detected, patients can elect between total removal (Mastectomy) or partial removal of the breast (Lumpectomy), with radiation treatment after. A mastectomy is the complete removal of all the breast tissue, resulting in a flat chest wall closure. A lumpectomy is surgical resection of a primary tumor with the goal of achieving widely negative margins. This procedure is applied to patients that are with stage I or stage II invasive carcinomas.

Advantages Mastectomy

Both of these procedures used to treat breast cancer have their share of advantages and disadvantages. For many women, the total removal of the breast provides greater sense of relief and calm. Additionally, radiation therapy may still be needed, depending on pathology results following the procedure.

Disadvantages of Mastectomy

 The disadvantages to mastectomy are that it takes much longer and is more extensive than lumpectomy, with more possible side effects after surgery and a longer recovery time. the surgery also results in a permanent and total loss of the breast, with additional surgeries required to reconstruct the breast after the mastectomy.

Advantages of Lumpectomy

Preserving the appearance and sensation of the breast, nipples, and breast tissue are some of the main advantages of opting for a lumpectomy. As the surgery is less invasive, the recovery time is much shorter than with a mastectomy.

Disadvantages of Lumpectomy

As far as disadvantages, a lumpectomy requires five to seven weeks of radiation therapy, five days a week to ensure the cancerous cells have been eliminated from the breast. the radiation therapy may interfere with the timing of reconstruction and your reconstructive surgery options post-surgery. The longer the wait, the more affected your options are likely to be to lift or balance your breasts. There is a small risk of recurrence with a lumpectomy. Furthermore, the breast cannot tolerate additional radiation should a recurrence of cancer arise, when a mastectomy will usually be recommended by your doctor.

Risk Factors for a Mastectomy

There are always potential complications that can arise from major surgery. For woman that opt for a mastectomy, those include but are not limited to wound infection, seroma, hematoma, chronic pain, fibrosis, and risk of local recurrence (in 5-10% of patients).

Risk Factors for a Lumpectomy

For a lumpectomy, possible complications include reaction to anesthesia, blood clots, numbness of the nipple or underarm skin, accumulation of blood and/or clear fluid in the wound. Your doctor should go over all of the potential risks involved with your surgery so you can know what to possibly expect.

Tests and Diagnosis for Mastectomy and Lumpectomy

Women should adhere to annual mammograms, as early detection is one of the best defenses against this potentially fatal disease. Screening tests such as biopsies are given to people who are suspected of already having breast cancer. Monitoring tests are used before and after treatment to track a patient's progress and for any signs or recurrence.

Cost of Mastectomy and Lumpectomy

In the majority of the cases, insurance covers the price of a mastectomy or lumpectomy in women. There is no standard price for the procedures, as they are subject to change based on the insurance company used, doctor(s) selected, region in the country, and many other factors.

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This article was written by the medical research team at does not intend for any of the information on this site to be regarded as medical advice - it is meant as a starting point for understanding treatment details and options before contacting a registered, licensed doctor. We advise all patients to seek medical advice from a doctor.
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