About Breast Cancer Surgery

The priority of breast cancer surgery is to remove all of the disease. It is very effective at doing this and as such it is the best treatment option for the large majority of women with breast cancer. 

Almost all women will have other treatments in addition to surgery to maximise the chances of cure. These treatments include:

  • Radiotherapy - a local treatment (like surgery) used to treat a specific area of the body (e.g. breast, lymph nodes, chest wall)
  • Chemotherapy / Hormone therapy / Herceptin - these are called systematic treatments and are primarily used to treat the possibility that some cancer cells have moved to other parts of the body.

The information gathered from the tests performed on the tissue removed at surgery also helps tailor these additional treatments to an individual woman.

An important, though secondary priority of breast cancer surgery is to leave an acceptable result from the surgery in terms of appearance and quality of life. As more women survive breast cancer then more women are left to live the rest of their lives with the (sometimes all too visible) scarring and deformity and other reminders that surgery can leave.

Oncoplastic breast surgery aims to optimise the success rate of breast cancer surgery in terms of treating the cancer and leaving an acceptable appearance. There is good evidence that it can do this. In many sitiuations it is about having options and being able to choose the best option for an individual woman with breast cancer. There is also good evidence that women who are given options tend to have better overall outcomes from breast cancer surgery. As not every surgeon can offer a full range of options it is important to choose your breast surgeon carefully and get off to a good start in your treatment pathway.