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A woman preparing in the hospital with her husband and nurses by her side

A bilateral mastectomy is the surgical removal of both breasts to treat or prevent breast cancer. There are several reasons why a patient might need or choose to undergo this procedure. While a bilateral mastectomy is an option for some women with diagnosis of breast cancer, it can also be used as a risk reducing operation for those who have been identified as having a high risk of developing breast cancer.

Surgical management of breast cancer is a highly individualized approach.  The reasons for a mastectomy relate to the characteristics of the cancer, including the type, number of tumors, size and location of each tumor and size of the tumor(s) in relation to the size of the affected breast(s). For instance, even if a patient has a relatively extensive cancer, a lumpectomy may be possible if she has sufficient breast tissue to maintain the shape of the breast following surgery. On the other hand, a mastectomy is the only treatment recommended for some rare forms of cancer, such as inflammatory breast cancer.

Alternatively, a woman who has not been diagnosed with breast cancer – and therefore does not have a medical need for the procedure – might make a personal choice to undergo a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. For instance, a woman who has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation may seek the procedure as a preventive measure because her risk of developing breast cancer is much higher than that of an average woman. A mastectomy can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we understand that breast cancer treatment decisions are highly personal and also can be difficult. The Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program at Moffitt is administered by a talented and compassionate team of cancer experts who have the knowledge and experience to help our patients make educated decisions. For all breast-related conditions, our full-service breast clinic offers the latest treatment options, including:

  • Lumpectomy
  • Unilateral and bilateral mastectomy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Targeted drug therapy

At the Moffitt Cancer Center, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center at McKinley Campus, Moffitt’s patients have access to multiple expert opinions in one location.  For example, a patient can see Genetic Counselors, a Breast Surgeon and Plastic Reconstructive surgeons all in one building.

Moffitt is a high-volume cancer center, and as a result, our surgeons have extensive experience in performing all types of breast cancer surgery procedures. We also offer breast reconstruction surgery to rebuild the shape of the breasts with implants or autologous tissue transfers following a unilateral or bilateral mastectomy.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Nazanin Khakpour

For more information about bilateral mastectomy and other breast cancer prevention and treatment strategies, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete our online new patient registration form to schedule an appointment. We do not require referrals.


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