Surgical treatment options
Generally speaking, the patient
can choose between radical or modified radical surgery and conservative
breast surgery. In some cases, the patient also has the option of
Here, the entire body of the mammary gland is removed, together with the relevant pectoral muscles and lymph
nodes. The incision runs from approximately the shoulder joint to the abdominal region. Consequently, the chest is
left very hollow. This method of treatment was commonly used up until
the 1970s. Since then research has shown that less radical surgery is
Modified radical mastectomy
this operation, the entire body of the mammary gland is removed,
together with the lymph nodes in the underarm area. The pectoral
muscles are left intact. Only when the pectoral muscles are affected by
tumours are they also removed. This is relatively rare nowadays,
because breast cancer is generally diagnosed at an early stage.
With this operating technique the mammary gland is removed in its entirety without interfering with the axillary lymph nodes.
Conservative breast surgery
female breast is divided into quadrants. Most tumours occur in the
upper outer quadrants. In quadrant resection, both the tumour and the
tissue in the surrounding quadrants are removed. This promises greater
certainty. However, the cosmetic result is not always optimal.
Tumorectomy, segmental mastectomy
this breast-conserving operation, the tumour is removed with a safety
margin from the healthy tissue. As a rule, a few lymph nodes are also
removed from the underarm area for accurate diagnosis during
conservative breast surgery. Generally speaking, it leaves only small,
barely visible scars.
Whether conservative breast surgery is
possible must ultimately be decided by the doctor in charge. In all
cases, the ratio of tumour size to total mammary gland tissue is a
relevant factor. If a few tumour cells have migrated into the
surrounding tissue, a safety margin of some 2 cm of healthy tissue will
be taken from around the tumour to ensure that all the malignent cells
Conservative breast surgery is often followed up with radiotherapy.