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Definition of «Mastectomy»


Mastectomy: A general term for removal of the breast, usually to remove cancerous tissue. The operation can be done in a hospital or in an outpatient clinic, depending on how extensive it needs to be. It takes from two to three hours, with three to five weeks for full recovery. Drainage shunts are left in the surgical incision for a few days after the operation; these are removed in three to five days if the area is healing normally. After the mastectomy, reconstructive surgery may be performed to restore a more normal appearance. Many patients choose to avoid reconstructive surgery, and wear special undergarments instead. In cases of non- metastatic breast cancer, a lumpectomy, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments may prove a viable alternative to mastectomy. If a lumpectomy is chosen, the surgeon may remove some lymph node tissue from under the arms to make sure cancer has not spread.

A modified radical mastectomy involves removal of the breast and the axillary lymph nodes. A simple mastectomy removes the breast, but not the lymph nodes.

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