Mastectomy is the surgical removal of the breast, usually because of breast cancer. There are a number of types that may be described as a:-
- partial mastectomy – only part of the breast is removed.
- simple mastectomy -only the breast tissue, and none of the deeper tissues or lymph nodes are removed.
- radical mastectomy – the breast, underlying muscle and tissue, some overlying skin, and surrounding lymph nodes are all removed.
After the procedure, which is performed under a general anaesthetic, a drainage tube is normally left in place for several days. After a simple mastectomy the patient usually leaves hospital after two or three days, but after a radical mastectomy, five days is more common.
The immediate complications are infection, bruising and a blood clot. Long term, lymphoedema may be a complication of a radical mastectomy.
A prosthetic (artificial) breast may be implanted during the initial operation in some patients, or may be inserted in another operation at a later date. Some women prefer to use an artificial breast worn in the bra.
Mast stands for “Breast” ; ectomy stands for “cutting off”.