Mastectomy and Double Mastectomy

More than 100,000 U.S. women undergo some form of mastectomy each year. It is typically performed to treat breast cancer, but, in some cases, it is performed to prevent the risk of breast cancer.

What is a Mastectomy?

A mastectomy is the surgical removal of one or both (double mastectomy) breasts. The appropriate type of surgical breast cancer treatment depends on several key factors, including age, menopause status, tumor size, and progression of the disease.

Mastectomy Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The Breast Surgery Service, in partnership with the Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, is committed to providing excellent care to patients with breast cancer. Doctors and other caregivers will work closely with you and your family to develop a treatment plan suited to your situation.

There are several types of surgical treatments for breast cancer, including:

  • Total (simple) mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast and most of the overlying skin. Some of the lymph nodes under the arm also may be removed.
  • Modified radical mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast, some of the lymph nodes under the arm, and the lining over the chest muscles. Part of the chest wall muscle also may be removed.
  • Radical mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast, the overlying skin, the lymph nodes under the arm, and the chest muscles.
  • Skin-sparing mastectomy involves the removal of the breast tissue, nipple, and areola, but most of the skin over the breast is saved. It is used only when breast reconstruction is performed immediately after the mastectomy surgery.
  • Subcutaneous mastectomy is the removal of breast tissue through an incision under the breast, but the skin and nipple are left in place. This procedure is followed by breast reconstruction.
  • Nipple-sparing mastectomy is similar to the skin-sparing procedure, except that tissues under and around the nipple and areola are carefully cut away and examined by a pathologist.

Surgical Cancer Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The Division of Surgical Oncology provides comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and management for adult cancer patients in both ambulatory and inpatient settings. Surgical specialties include the treatment of benign and malignant disorders of the breast and management of gastrointestinal (colorectal, biliary, hepatic, and pancreatic) malignancies. The Division is also well known for its innovative therapy for soft tissue sarcomas and melanomas and other skin lesions.

Patient- and Family-focused Care

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has long been committed to not only the care of our patients but also the many other needs that they and their families have. This philosophy of patient- and family-focused care - involving systems and services that emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment – is a guiding force behind the care we provide at BWH and DFBCC.

Quality of Patient Care

BWH is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, most-satisfying care possible and following established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. Our Inpatient Satisfaction Survey, sent to patients’ to assess their total care experience, helps us to monitor what we are doing well and where we could improve. We pride ourselves in the Quality of Patient Care we provide and how we compare with other hospitals.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital Breast Care Team

Our team of breast care specialists includes world-renowned breast surgeons, nurse practitioners, patient navigators, medical and radiation oncologists, cancer risk experts, breast pathologists, plastic surgeons, social workers, and rehabilitation specialists who use a patient-focused approach to deliver the most effective treatment for each patient. Meet our Breast Surgery Service team.

Contact Us

If you believe you should have an evaluation and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our breast care experts, call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to one of our knowledgeable coordinators who can help to connect you to the doctor that best meets your needs, or fill out an online appointment request form.

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital

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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