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A doctor talks to a patient about total mastectomy

A total mastectomy is a surgical procedure designed to treat breast cancer by removing an entire breast, including the breast tissue, nipple, areola and skin. Also known as simple mastectomy, this approach may be appropriate for a patient with extensive cancer not favorable to a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy. Some patients also opt for a total mastectomy over breast-conserving procedures like lumpectomy for added peace of mind. Others elect to undergo the procedure as a preventive measure – even though they have not been diagnosed with breast cancer –because they have been identified as having a genetic predisposition or are otherwise at high risk for developing the condition.

For help in deciding on the best possible treatment approach, a breast cancer patient can turn to The Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, which is administered by a highly acclaimed team of experts. This multispecialty tumor board collaboratively evaluates each patient’s case and makes individualized, evidence-based recommendations. Our tailored approach to breast cancer treatment is just one of the many ways in which Moffitt has distinguished itself as a premier cancer center.

Patients who are considering total mastectomy should be aware of the following key points:

  • A total mastectomy does not usually involve the removal of lymph nodes from the armpit area. Removal of all axillary nodes, which is known as axillary lymph node dissection, is generally performed as part of a modified radical mastectomy.
  • To determine whether cancer cells have spread beyond the original tumor to nearby lymph nodes, a surgeon may perform an advanced technique called sentinel node mapping and biopsy in conjunction with a total mastectomy. This yields important information that can be utilized by medical and radiation oncologists when planning the patient’s follow-up treatment.

For patients who require total mastectomy or other breast cancer procedures, Moffitt offers a level of surgical expertise that far exceeds that of other providers. As a high-volume cancer center – the third highest in the nation – we’ve helped thousands of patients beat breast cancer. Our highly skilled surgeons have performed many total mastectomy procedures, and our extensive experience produces better outcomes and quality of life for our patients.

Medically reviewed by John Kiluk, MD, surgical oncologist 

Contact us to learn more about total mastectomy and other breast cancer surgery and treatment options available at Moffitt. No referral is required; call 1-888-663-3488 or submit your new patient registration form online. 

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