USC Surgery / Treatments / Mastectomy

Mastectomy is a surgery to remove the entire breast.

Total (or simple) mastectomy: The removal of the entire breast, including the nipple, areola and most of the overlying skin.

Modified radical mastectomy: The removal of the entire breast, including the nipple, areola, overlaying skin and the thin layer of fascia over the chest muscle. It also includes removal of some of the lymph nodes under the arm.

Radical mastectomy: The extensive removal of the entire breast, including the nipple, areola, overlaying skin, the lymph nodes under the arm and the chest muscle. Historically, this operation was the standard of care. However, now we only rarely use this operation and mostly in cases in which the tumor is locally invading the chest muscle.

Skin-sparing mastectomy: The removal of the entire breast, including the nipple and areola; only the overlaying skin is preserved.

Skin-nipple-areolar-sparing mastectomy: This is a modification of the skin-sparing mastectomy, in which the entire breast is removed, but the skin, nipple and areola are preserved. The breast tissue in and around the nipple and areolar complex are carefully dissected away and examined by a pathologist to ensure that no residual breast tissue or tumor cells are left behind.

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