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Mastectomy is a surgical procedure that aims to remove all of the tissue from a breast in order to treat or to prevent the development of breast cancer. For people that have an early stage of breast cancer, mastectomy is just one of many treatments available. For people that are dealing with the later stages of breast cancer, mastectomy may be the only viable option. In the past, the mastectomy procedure meant that very little shape of the breast would remain. Today's mastectomy procedures allow for more of the natural breast shape to remain even though the underlying tissue is removed.
Whether or not mastectomy is the best course of action will depend on a dialogue between the patient and the treating physician. In many situations, mastectomy is the best way to ensure that the breast cancer is completely removed and there is no chance of it spreading to other tissues of the body. People who have a predisposition for breast cancer development may choose to have the breast tissue removed to prevent future potential of breast cancer development.
Certain types of breast cancer development benefit from mastectomy such as stages 1 and 2 breast cancer, locally advanced stage 3 breast cancer and DCIS or ductal carcinoma in SITU. Other types of cancers essentially require this treatment such as multiple cancer tumors in separate parts of the breast or recurrent breast cancer that is not responding to radiation therapy. It is up to the physician and the patient to determine whether or not mastectomy is the right course of action.