Breast cancer treatment is tailored to the individual. We perform breast surgery to treat harmless (benign) and cancer (malignant) breast problems.
Usually the first step in breast cancer treatment is an operation to remove the cancer. You may be recommended to have a lumpectomy (also known as a wide local excision/breast conserving surgery). This is where the cancer is removed with an area of healthy surrounding tissue, or a mastectomy (removal of the breast with or without reconstruction). Sometimes a patient is also advised to have surgery to remove lymph nodes within the armpit (axilla) too.
After surgery further treatments such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and endocrine tablet treatment may be discussed. In some cases chemotherapy before surgery may be advised (neo-adjuvant chemotherapy). The specific treatment options recommended will be individualised to your breast cancer. Most of the surgery we perform is as a day-case.
This is also known as breast conserving surgery or wide local excision. This involves removing the cancer and some healthy tissue surrounding it and leaving the breast. This can also be combined with a breast reduction type procedure (therapeutic mammoplasty) if you have large breasts to allow the removal of greater areas of tissue. Our surgeons are also able to perform volume replacement surgery, where tissue nearby is moved into the breast in order to prevent deformities after surgery, particularly if large lumps need to be removed.
If your cancer cannot be easily felt, we may advise that you have an ‘iodine seed’ placed within the tumour prior to surgery. This is a tiny piece of metal which emits a small safe dose of radiation. This can then be detected at the time of your surgery in order for the tumour to be removed accurately (like a metal detector).
This is removal of the breast. We would recommend this in patients who have large cancers with respect to their breast size or if you have had radiotherapy in the past. It can be performed with reconstruction where a ‘new breast’ is created at the same time (using implants or some of your own body tissue). The team will discuss with you if this is appropriate.
Lymph node surgery
If you have had a normal ultrasound of your armpit, we may recommend surgery to remove a few lymph nodes at the time of surgery. This is called a sentinel lymph node biopsy. Some ladies may have cancer detected in their armpit before surgery and may be advised to have all the lymph nodes removed. This is called an axillary lymph node clearance. The team will discuss this with you in more detail if needed.