A mastectomy is a surgical procedure involving the removal of part of or the entire breast, while a double mastectomy is the removal of both breasts. A mastectomy is usually performed to treat breast cancer, though some women who are at high risk for breast cancer may choose to have a mastectomy in order to prevent cancer from developing.

There are several types of mastectomy procedures:

  • Total (or simple) mastectomy: removes the entire the breast, including the nipple and areola
  • Modified radical mastectomy: removes the breast as well as the lymph nodes under the arm, the lining over the chest muscles and, sometimes, part of the chest wall muscles
  • Skin-sparing or nipple-sparing mastectomy: removes the entire breast tissue as in a total mastectomy but leaves most of the skin, with or without the nipple; may be an option for women whose mastectomy will be following immediately by reconstructive breast surgery

Some women may have to option of undergoing a partial mastectomy, or lumpectomy, which removes cancerous tissue while preserving the breast. This type of procedure is often followed by radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells and, in some cases, chemotherapy or other treatments may be given as well.

Women seeking treatment for breast cancer and considering a mastectomy or other forms of treatment will find state-of-the-art care at the Breast Oncology Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Learn more about mastectomy procedures and other treatments for breast cancer at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Mastectomy surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital

Brigham and Women's Hospital is one of the world's leading institutions for research and treatment. In addition to mastectomy procedures, we provide treatment for a wide variety of cancers, including treatments such as an oophorectomy for cancer, treatment for endometrial cancer and cervical cancer treatment.

With some of the world's leading specialists in breast cancer and the most advanced treatments and technology, the Breast Oncology Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital offers expert, compassionate care that is tailored to the needs of each individual patient. In addition to a mastectomy and other specific treatment options, patients also have access to many resources including nutritional help and complementary therapies, to support them before, during and after the treatment process.

Research and clinical studies

Because physicians at Brigham and Women's Hospital are actively engaged in clinical research and trials, patients may be able to participate in clinical studies involving new and innovative therapies that may complement or avoid a mastectomy procedure. Research includes study of new therapies, new ways of combining existing therapies, prevention and early-detection strategies and study of the many subtypes of breast cancer to better understand the disease.

Learn more about Mastectomy and Breast Cancer Treatments at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

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