Mastectomy is the medical term for the surgical removal of one or both breasts, either partially or completely. Mastectomy is usually done to combat breast cancer. In some cases, women believed to be at high risk of breast cancer have the operation prophylactically, that is, to prevent cancer rather than treat it. It is also the medical procedure carried out to remove breast cancer (tissue) in males.
Alternatively, certain patients can choose to have a wide local excision (also called a lumpectomy), an operation in which a small volume of breast tissue containing the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue is removed to conserve the breast. Both mastectomies and lumpectomies are what are referred to as "local therapies" for breast cancer (targeting the area of the tumor), as opposed to systemic therapies such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or immunotherapy.
There are a variety of types of mastectomy in use, and the type that a patient decides to undergo depends on factors such as: size, location, and behavior of the tumor (if there is one), whether or not the surgery is prophylactic, and whether or not the patient intends to undergo reconstructive surgery.
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